The Cincinnati Reds were at or near the bottom of the National League Central for the better part of the last six seasons. The last time the Reds were relevant was in 2013 when the Reds finished third in the division with 90 wins.
This season, many sportsbooks have mentioned that this may be the year that the Reds return to baseball relevance after some baseball moves during this past offseason. They should be in pretty good shape to compete with the stalwarts of the division in St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee.
It may be a little early to talk about winning the World Series, but sportsbooks see Cincinnati as a contender in the deep NL Central. If you are new to sports betting, please check out our MLB Betting hub page to get started.
Cincinnati Reds 2019 Results
The Cincinnati Reds entered the 2019 season with the idea that it was going to be a transition year. They had traded for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Puig and Kemp looked to start in the Cincinnati outfield, and the thought was that the Reds would be able to sell more tickets with some box office value. The Reds were in the race as late as July because no team really looked to run away with the division.
They were five games under .500 in the first half of the season and only five games out of first place at the All-Star break. They slipped to seven games under .500 in the second half of the season to finish at 75-87.
Part of the problem was the hitting of the team. The Reds hit just .244 as a team and were 24-33 in one-run games. Consequently, the Reds had the eighth-best team ERA in Major League Baseball.
The staff was led by Luis Castillo, who came on strong in 2019 with a record of 15-8 and an ERA of 3.40 with 226 strikeouts in 190 2/3 innings pitched. Right-hander Sonny Gray had a resurgence with the Reds in 2019 with a record of 11-8 and an ERA of 2.87 with 206 strikeouts in 175 1/3 innings. Starting pitching was the strength of the team in 2019.
Key Additions to Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds revamped their lineup in the offseason, making a series of moves that will fix some issues that lingered throughout the 2019 season. The first move was to sign slugging second baseman Mike Moustakas as a free agent to a four-year, $64 million deal to play second base.
His power will instantly play in Great American Ballpark, and he will add power that the Reds did not have in 2019. Moustakas hit 35 home runs in 2019 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, so he is familiar with the National League Central.
The Reds were not done there. Shortly after signing Moustakas, the Reds inked Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year, $21 million deal in January.
He was a five-time All-Star in Japan and will most likely play left field in Cincinnati. He hit .303 with 20 home runs and 62 RBI while stealing 12 bases, and he had an on-base percentage of .392.
Joining Akiyama in the outfield will be rightfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Castellanos, like Moustakas, signed a four-year, $64 million deal in January. He will most likely remain in the right field in Cincinnati.
After being traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago Cubs in July last season, Castellanos was a beast for the Cubs. He hit .321 with 16 home runs and 36 RBI in just 51 games.
His on-base percentage with Chicago was .356. He should be able to add to the power numbers as well at Great American Ballpark.
Joining Gray, Castillo, and Trevor Bauer in the rotation will be left-hander Wade Miley. Miley signed a free-agent deal for two years and $15 million after he spent the 2019 season pitching for the American League champion Houston Astros.
He went 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 167 1/3 innings but was left off of Houston’s postseason roster in each of the three rounds.
Big Losses for the Cincinnati Reds
When you finish in fourth place, there are not many players that leave that make a huge difference. A team that improves significantly creates buzz with their additions, not subtractions.
However, the Reds lost the second baseman Jose Peraza to free agency, and he was a decent fielder that could play shortstop and second base. Peraza is a career .273 hitter in over 1,700 at-bats in his major league career. Peraza played five different positions for the Reds, so losing him creates a loss in depth and versatility.
Cincinnati Reds Pitching
The Reds’ starting rotation will have the potential to be one of the best in not only the National League but all of Major League Baseball. Once again, they will be led by staff ace Luis Castillo, who was outstanding in the first half of the season, going 8-3 with an ERA of 2.29 in 18 starts.
In the second half, he faltered somewhat, going 7-5 with a 4.78 ERA. While his walks reduced in half in the second half of the season, the home runs allowed increased. There is no concern about the dip in productivity, and Castillo should be a top-five starter in the National League.
Sonny Gray will look to continue his success from 2019 as the No. 2 starter for the Reds in 2020. Gray had a WAR of 5.6 in 2019, and the main reason was consistency. He was very consistent throughout the season, and his ERA was a stingy 2.12 in the second half.
The third starter for the Reds was acquired in July of 2019. Trevor Bauer wasn’t great after being traded from the Cleveland Indians, going 2-5 with a 6.39 ERA after the move.
However, while in Cleveland in 2019, he went 9-8 with a 3.79 ERA. The Reds will be counting on the latter as opposed to the former in 2020.
Penciled into the fourth spot in the rotation is right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. DeSclanfani went 9-9 in 31 starts in 2019, notching a 3.89 ERA and striking out 167 hitters in 166 2/3 innings pitched. DeSclanfani will be beginning his sixth major league season, his fifth with the Reds.
The fifth starter, as mentioned earlier, is going to be Miley, who signed a free-agent contract with the Reds in the offseason. He will be familiar with the National League Central after pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018.
Cincinnati Reds Offense
The Reds’ offense was their Achilles heel in 2019. They only hit .244 as a team with 227 home runs. They addressed needs to lengthen their lineup to assist aging first baseman Joey Votto.
Akiyama should be a table-setter for the Reds’ lineup in 2020. The Reds had an on-base percentage of .315, but the addition of Akiyama will immediately address this. His career OBP in Japan was .379.
The power will be taken care of by Castellanos and Moustakas. At some point in the season, Aristedes Aquino will provide some pop to the Reds’ lineup as well. In 2019, he hit 19 home runs and 47 RBI in just 56 games.
He will begin the season off of the 30-man roster, but will most likely be added at some point. Look for the Reds to possibly make a move as well to get the outfield depth trimmed a bit.
Votto will be looking to bounce back from a down 2019 season in which he hit just .261 with 15 home runs and 47 RBI. His average was 46 points below his career mark of .307. More production throughout the lineup should allow Votto to produce more as well.
Three Key Players for 2020 Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds will need to score more runs to have the success that some are predicting for them. Therefore, the three key players of the 2020 Reds will be position players.
The first one will be Moustakas. If Moustakas hits home runs at the rate that he has throughout his career, the free agent move will be deemed successful.
The same can be said of Castellanos. The Reds are paying him a lot of money to produce in the right field and expect him to do just that. He destroyed the National League in the second half of last season, and there is no reason for that to not continue.
Perhaps the most important Reds player of 2020 is Votto. He is in the twilight of his career, but if he can muster up some of the production of his past in this shortened season, the Reds will be contenders for not only the division title but the National League pennant as well.
2020 Cincinnati Reds Schedule Breakdown
The Cincinnati Reds will play their National League Central foes 40 times. Of note, they will play 17 straight games without an off day.
They do get the luxury of playing the Detroit Tigers in six of their first 10 games. The Reds will play seven of their 10 games against the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ballpark, while they will play the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers on the road for seven of their 10 meetings.
Cincinnati will go on a 10-game road trip through Kansas City, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. They will end the season with a three-game series with the defending American League Central champion Minnesota Twins.
Before they finish in Minnesota, they will have a nine-game homestand against the Chicago White Sox, Cubs, Pirates, and Brewers.
According to BetUS.com, the Reds, like the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central, have a money line of +2500 to win the World Series. BetUS.com has the Reds at a money line of +1200 to win the National League pennant, also tied with the Cubs and Brewers.
This is a decent value if the Reds can hit. Their starting pitching rotation is good enough to win in a shortened season.The Reds’ over/under, according to BetUS.com, is 32.0, and the over has a money line of -150. The Reds have a good chance of hitting the over in the 2020 season