The Reds moved some big names this offseason as rebuilding efforts are fully underway in Cincinnati. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds play 19 times in 2016.
2015 Record: 64-98
Notable Newcomers: None
Against St. Louis in 2016: 3 games April 15-17 @STL, 3 games June 7-9 @CIN, 3 games August 2-4 @CIN, 3 games August 8-10 @STL, 3 games September 2-4 @CIN, 4 games September 26-29 @STL
The Cincinnati Reds are just four years removed from their last National League Central title. Back in 2012, the Reds won 97 games en route to their second division title in three years. They were the strongest competition the St. Louis Cardinals had in the division at the time.
Now, with the departure of all-star talents like closer Aroldis Chapman and third baseman Todd Frazier, the Reds will spend 2016 evaluating the talent that they have in-house to build towards the future.
A club that finished 26th in runs scored as well as runs allowed along with 27th in run differential a year ago will need to show significant improvement across the board. The Reds actually have a pretty good core of players still together, but if they struggle again in 2016, the organization may have no choice but to blow up that core completely.
When you consider the fact that the Reds have talents like Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce in their outfield, along with Joey Votto, Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips on their infield with Devin Mesoraco behind the plate, it isn’t completely ridiculous to think that the Reds could bounce back in 2016.
The problem is that the Reds have questions everywhere when it comes to their pitching staff. Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias are considered locks for the top two rotation spots. Homer Bailey is expected to return some time in May as he recovers from Tommy John. That means that there will be three rotation spots up for grabs to open 2016.
The Reds got a head start on evaluating their pitching options at the end of 2015, when they started a rookie in a record 64 straight games to finish the season. Now, there is a list seven different arms that will compete for the three open rotation spots.
It is anybody’s guess as to which three will make the cut. If 2016 goes anything like last season did for the Reds, all seven guys might see opportunities at some point in the season.
Likewise, there is very little certainty as far as roles are concerned in the Cincinnati bullpen. With Aroldis Chapman no longer in the picture, there will be competition for the closer role. J.J. Hoover figures to get first shot at the job. A year ago, Hoover turned in a 2.94 ERA over 64 1/3 innings in a setup role for Chapman.
As I mentioned earlier, it isn’t completely inconceivable to think that the Reds could hang around in the division through the early months of the season, if they get some decent starting pitching.
If things go south, the Reds could end up completely clearing house, and anybody on that roster would be fair game for a trade.
I think that the Reds are going to struggle from the beginning, and the front office will be quick to pull the plug to get looks at the organization’s young talent.
That could be good news for the Cardinals, considering that they will need every win they can get in the three-headed monster of a division that they play in. Hopefully, playing the Reds 19 times in 2016 will help the Redbirds pad the win/loss record as they chase down a fourth consecutive NL Central title.
I like the Cardinals to win seven of the ten Busch Stadium contests with the Reds this year while winning six of nine in Cincinnati. That would result in a 13-6 season series victory. If they do much worse than that against the Reds this year, it could be bad news for the club’s NL Central title hopes.