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Know your enemy: Cincinnati Reds

This series will look at all the teams the Cubs play in 2020.

The Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Can someone explain to me what the Reds are doing?

They have been the most active of all the Cubs’ opponents in the N.L. Central over this past offseason. Among their biggest signings have been outfielders. Shogo Akiyama has come over from Japan’s NPB, and former Cub Nicholas Castellanos also joins the Reds.

Along with holdovers Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino and Phillip Ervin, that gives the Reds seven outfielders for three positions.

But hey! Senzel plays second base. So he could be moved there... except the Reds signed Mike Moustakas to play second base, and Moustakas kind of has to play there because the Reds already have Eugenio Suarez at third base and Joey Votto at first.

Manager David Bell is going to have his work cut out for him putting a regular lineup together out of all that. I suppose this could wind up with guys playing all over the field and giving plenty of rest, which isn’t a bad thing, but it sure seems like the Reds signed way too many hitters.

That’s especially true because what the Reds really needed this offseason was pitching, particularly starting pitching. They did add Wade Miley to their rotation. That gives them a fairly solid rotation of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (who was excellent in 2019), Anthony DeSclafani, Trevor Bauer and Miley... and Tyler Mahle. Welp, too many starters, too!

This is probably a good problem to have. You can’t have too many good players, as the Cubs have found out in recent years with injury issues. The Reds do have an excellent closer in Raisel Iglesias, a good setup man in Michael Lorenzen (who also plays outfield!), and they have added former Cub Pedro Strop to the festivities.

After years of the Cubs tormenting the Reds, the Reds turned that around last year, going 11-8 against the Cubs, including 6-3 against them in Cincinnati.

The Reds likely feel primed to make a run at the N.L. Central title. They played five games worse than their Pythagorean projection last year. That projection had them as basically a .500 team. They should be at least that good in 2020.

KEY ADDITIONS: Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Pedro Strop, Shogo Akiyama, Wade Miley, Justin Shafer, Nick Martini, Mark Payton, Travis Jankowski

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Wandy Peralta, Alex Wood, Jose Iglesias, Jackson Stephens, Kevin Gausman, Jose Peraza

The Cubs will face the Reds 19 times this year, but won’t see them until after Memorial Day:

May 29-30-31-June 1, July 17-18-19 and September 4-5-6 at Wrigley Field
June 4-5-6-7, June 23-24-25 and August 11-12 at Cincinnati

(Yes, that’s eight games in a 10-game stretch against them in late May/early June)