2021 Cincinnati Reds: Opening Day Roster Predictions

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2021 Cincinnati Reds
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - SEPTEMBER 25: The Cincinnati Reds congratulate teammate Mike Moustakas #9 on a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the fourth inning of the game at Target Field on September 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

In a season full of ups and downs, the 2020 campaign proved to be a fruitful one for the Reds, despite falling in the Wildcard to Atlanta Braves. So where do the 2021 Cincinnati Reds go after the highs and lows of last season? They have already parted ways with their star pitcher, Trevor Bauer, and need to build on a campaign that saw them record the lowest batting average as a team since the 1910 Chicago White Sox hit .210.

2021 Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Roster: Starting Rotation

SP1 – Sonny Gray

After losing Trevor Bauer in the off-season, it looks like Sonny Gray will take up the role of SP1. Since being drafted in 2011 by the Oakland Athletics in the 1st Round, he has accumulated 188 starts, with a record of 75-63, and an ERA of 3.54. He arrived in Cincinnati in 2019 and has proved to be a useful acquisition, becoming an All-Star for the second time in 2019, before another solid season last year. At just 31 years old, his experience could prove to be vital as the Reds build upon a rollercoaster 2020.

The Rest of the Rotation – Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, and Michael Lorenzen

Whilst the Reds have not added to their starting rotation, they can rely on the experience and know-how of 2 of their solid pitching team of 2020. Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle weren’t as good as Bauer, but both recorded ERAs of around 3.50, whilst both having an impressive strikeout rate.

Castillo is the most lethal out of the rotation, showcasing his 97mph fastball and powerful changeup. Although he finished with a losing record in 2020, he was the most-used pitcher and only Bauer had a better ERA than him.

Mahle, on the other hand, showed more guile and resilience at the mound to turn a 2-12 record in 2019, to a 2-2 record in 2020, with an ERA of 3.59. This significant improvement makes him one to watch in 2021. His 4-seamer sits in the mid-90s but works well with his slider combo.

Wade Miley and Michael Lorenzen seem to be the gambles of the starting rotation. Miley made just four starts in 2020, having an ERA of 5.65 and three losses. Although he did have some groin problems last season, there will need to be vast improvements for next year. Lorenzen had been used sporadically due to his dual role but impressed when relieving last season. Taking up the role of starter will be unique for him, but if he can maintain that consistency of last year then the 2021 Cincinnati Reds will be happy.

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It will be interesting to see how used Miley and Lorenzen are. They may be used for the first few innings before being replaced by bullpen arms. This leads us on nicely to their current pen.

The Bullpen

Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Sean Doolittle, Tejay Antone, Jeff Hoffman, Noe Ramirez, Sal Romano, and Jose De Leon

After losing Raisel Iglesias to the Angels, the 2021 Cincinnati Reds welcomed Sean Doolittle into their bullpen. There were some standout guys in 2020, including Antone, Sims, and Garrett, but there will need to be more emphasis on the other guys to perform to pick up results. Already classed as an ‘average’ bullpen, the Reds will be hoping their bats do more of the work in 2021 to allow their bullpen time to adjust to new roles and try and pick up some momentum.

Starting Lineup

Outfield: Shogo Akiyama, Nicholas Castellanos, Jesse Winker

On paper, these three look like an appealing outfield trio. However, 2020 was a tough one from a batting perspective for the Reds. Akiyama averaged .245 but didn’t manage a single HR, whilst Castellanos averaged .225 with 14 HRs and Winker averaged .255 with 12 HRs. The latter two seemed to do well when you see their numbers, but there is a heavy reliance on Castellanos and Akiyama, in particular, to get on base and make things happen. They will more than likely start 1-2 next year, so an emphasis on increasing BAs and picking up more runs will be key for them both. Akiyama would have needed 2020 to adjust to the American game, so should come out stronger in 2021, whilst Castellanos should start reverting to his .270-.280 average over a longer season. Winker finished last season well, despite a slight decline in BA, but will need to focus more on going back to his outfield role after the DH rule was cut.

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Infield: Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suarez, Jose Garcia

Pretty much the same infield will line up in 2021 as it did in 2020, albeit except for Freddy Galvis, who left for the Baltimore Orioles. The shortstop role could either be handed to youngster Jose Garcia, or the experienced Kyle Farmer. Either way, there’s more emphasis this year for all these guys to improve their BA, apart from Suarez. Votto finished with a BA of just .226, Moustakas .230, and Garcia just .197 albeit in a smaller sample.

Suarez proved his worth last year, hitting over .300 with double-digit HRs and the highest amount of RBIs in the team. He will need to use his experience to help Garcia on that left side if he was to get the role, but he will be hoping his batting side of his game will carry the team more, targeting 50 HRs next year!

The 2021 Cincinnati Reds are looking at Garcia, Kyle Farmer, Kyle Holder, Alex Blandino, and non-roster invite Dee Strange-Gordon at shortstop this spring, thus leaving the starting SS role up in the air as it stands. Garcia spent the off-season bulking up and will be looking to continue his Major League career in 2021.

Catcher: Tucker Barnhart

After Curt Casali left for the San Francisco Giants, there puts more emphasis on Barnhart making the role more permanent come 2021. There was the breakout of Tyler Stephenson in 2020, but with his inexperience and lack of game time behind the plate, Barnhart has got a big role to play in 2021. Averaging just .204 with five HRs, his numbers didn’t stand out in 2020, but his experience and record should see him start the season as the number one catcher, albeit maybe only for a short spell.

2021 Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Roster: Bench

Tyler Stephenson, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino

There are plenty of other options that could be on the bench for the 2021 Cincinnati Reds, but these three make the most sense. Stephenson can play catcher or 1B, whilst Senzel and Aquino offer outfield options. The Reds could have Kyle Farmer, or Kyle Holder, on the bench to support the infield options if they needed it.

Stephenson and Aquino are young, whilst potentially having the ability to make their respective roles more permanent with game time. They will be hoping to get games throughout the year and cement their places with performances they are both capable of. Senzel could prove to be an effective utility player. He showed in 2019 he can make clean contact with the ball, whilst having the aggression to hit double-digit HRs.

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main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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