2020 was a successful season in some aspects for the Cincinnati Reds. They finished the year with a winning record (31-29) and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. As a new season approaches, let’s take a look at the state of the 2021 Cincinnati Reds, and how they could fare in a full 162-game season.
Pitching is Still Strong
The Reds’ pitching staff is still one of best in the league. They did lose Trevor Bauer, which was expected, after he won the 2020 Cy Young Award. The Reds also non-tendered Archie Bradley and traded Raisel Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels.
Despite losing some pieces, they return Luis Castillo, who dazzled last season, and has one of the best changeups in baseball. Castillo only seems to get better year after year, and he will get the Opening Day nod in 2021. Sonny Gray will also return to the Redlegs in 2021 after a stellar first two seasons in the Queen City. Gray battled some injuries in 2020, but looks ready to go for 2021.
Following those two aces will be Tyler Mahle, who is a very strong breakout candidate for 2021. He pitched very well in 2020, and will look to build upon his Major League resume. After another injury to Wade Miley, spots number four and five in the rotation are up for grabs. Tejay Antone will likely claim one of those spots, as he dazzled out of the bullpen and in some emergency starts last season. He has been sharp this spring, which seems to point to him claiming a rotation spot in the rotation.
Spot number five in this rotation is still up for grabs, as we wait to see Miley’s recovery and possibly the emergence of Michael Lorenzen. The Reds still have a strong back end of the bullpen, now bolstered by Sean Doolittle, but they return the super fun and super intense closer Amir Garrett.
The Hitting Will be Back
2020 was very unkind to the Cincinnati Reds at the plate. They were the worst offensive team in the playoffs last year, and one of the worst in the league overall. In the two wildcard games versus Atlanta, they scored zero runs, and left the bases loaded a collective six times in two games. In 2021, expect to see the Reds offense return, as the league returns to a full 162-game schedule. This spring the Reds have hit the ball very well, which is a really good sign. They are in the top-five in batting average and on-base percentage in the Cactus League, and they rank within the top-10 in slugging. This is a promising sign for Cincinnati as they need to compete with St. Louis and Chicago for that division crown.
Who Will Play Shortstop?
The Cincinnati Reds had a dilemma last season, and it showed. They didn’t have an established shortstop, and it hurt the team. With Freddy Galvis gone, the Reds needed to find one in free agency or through trade. They were constantly linked to both Francisco Lindor and Didi Gregorius, but they struck out on both, causing them to look internally. It’s now looking like Eugenio Suarez will slide back to short, as Jose Garcia failed to hit this spring. Garcia literally failed to hit, as he was 0-14 before being optioned to continue his development in the minors. From what we’ve seen from manager David Bell, it looks like Suarez will play shortstop, Mike Moustakas will move back to third base and rookie Jonathan India might get a shot to play second base. India sure has earned the call, as he’s constantly lit up MLB pitching this spring, and come up with huge hits.
The Reds have a very solid squad this year, minus one or two pieces. They have the hitting and pitching talent to match the likes of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. In order for the Cincinnati Reds to succeed this season, they need to hit the baseball. They need to score runs so the pitching staff can do their thing and nail down ballgames for this team. If that falls into place for the Reds this year, they could be a dark horse team in the National League to make a deep playoff run. The Reds head back home early this week in preparation for Opening Day, where they will take on the St. Louis Cardinals to kick off the 2021 MLB season.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images
Players mentioned: Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Raisel Iglesias, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Tejay Antone, Michael Lorenzen, Sean Doolittle, Amir Garrett, Freddy Galvis, Francisco Lindor, Didi Gregorius, Eugenio Suarez,Jose Garcia, David Bell, Mike Moustakas, Jonathan India