Cincinnati may not make the playoffs this year, but they can in the future
Heading into the 2019 Major League Baseball season, no team experienced more roster turnover than the Cincinnati Reds.
In a series of trades, the Reds acquired Tanner Roark, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp, Kyle Farmer and Sonny Gray, all while keeping most of their prospect depth intact.
While the changes weren’t intended to make the Reds instantly competitive, it signaled to the fanbase, the players and staff in the organization and the rest of the league that the Reds were done rebuilding.
Instead, they were interested in reloading and building up their major league talent instead of their farm system.
Despite the improved roster and a much-improved bullpen, the Reds still struggled in the ultra-competitive NL Central, and on July 30, were sitting at 49-56, 7.5 games out of the division and 6.5 out of the second NL Wild Card spot.
However, the Reds continued their philosophy of buying instead of selling by making arguably the biggest move of the MLB Trade Deadline, acquiring Indians ace Trevor Bauer in a three-team deal also involving the Padres. To acquire Bauer, the Reds sent Puig and prospect Scott Moss to the Indians while sending heralded prospect Taylor Trammell to San Diego.
The next day, to make room for Bauer in the rotation, the Reds moved on from Roark, sending him to the A’s for a prospect. With the addition of Bauer, the Reds have played better baseball in the second half of the season, with their record currently at 56-61 and only seven games back of the division lead and 5.5 games out of the wild card.
Besides the fact that Roark, Kemp, who was released earlier in the season, and Puig are no longer with the team, the Reds’ offseason strategy has definitely panned out as Sonny Gray has returned to his previous form. He’s currently 7-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 127.2 innings pitched.
Puig helped the Reds acquire Bauer, who’s under team control through next season and should anchor a stacked Reds rotation along with Gray and Luis Castillo, who’s emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball this season.
If the Reds expect to make the playoffs this season, they’ll need to make significant headway against the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals, three teams ahead of them in the NL Central who are all currently in line to make the playoffs.
It’s no question that the Central is the most difficult division in baseball this season, but the Reds have managed to stay competitive.
Despite an offense that’s stagnated a times, the Reds’ pitching staff has been so good this season that the Reds have a +42-run differential, which puts their Pythagorean record at 62-53.
A Pythagorean record is a team’s expected record strictly based off run differential. Essentially, the Reds have been much better than their record has shown this year.
According to Baseball Reference, the Reds only have an 8.3% chance to make the playoffs this season.
However, if they continue to buy and build up their major league roster, especially their lineup, they’ll definitely be a team to look out for in the coming seasons.
By Joe Clark | Staff Writer