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Know your enemy: Cincinnati Reds

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The Reds don’t seem to have improved much this winter.

Goodyear Ballpark, spring home of the Reds
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

KEY ADDITIONS: Cheslor Cuthbert, Sean Doolittle, Dee Strange-Gordon, Noe Ramirez

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Curt Casali, Brian Goodwin, Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Freddy Galvis

First, a note on this series. These articles are not intended to be a comprehensive look at every single player on the roster of the team I’m featuring on any particular day. Rather, it’s a look at the major changes to that team over the winter and the principal storylines regarding that ballclub, express my personal views about that team, and to stimulate discussion.

Now, on to the Reds.

So let me get this straight.

Reds pitching was actually pretty good in 2020. They had the NL Cy Young Award winner in Trevor Bauer, plus good years from Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, and a solid closer in Raisel Iglesias.

Bauer’s gone to free agency, Iglesias was traded and another starter’s also gone in Anthony DeSclafani.

And this is supposed to improve the team how, exactly?

The Reds do have some relievers who could possibly replace Iglesias’ production at closer. Sean Doolittle has closing experience, and Tejay Antone had a surprisingly good year as a rookie in 2020 (45 strikeouts in 35⅓ innings).

The Reds’ offense returns more or less intact. That could be a good thing for them if guys like Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto return to form. Votto, who has posted good OBPs the last couple of years while the rest of his numbers have declined, is now 37 and appears to be in the decline phase of his career. And the Reds ranked 13th in runs scored in the NL in 2020, while they were fifth-best in fewest runs allowed. They’ll have to get that hitting on track to contend in 2021.

Jose Garcia, a 22-year-old from Cuba who made his MLB debut last August, is in line to take over as the starting shortstop with the departure of Freddy Galvis to free agency.

It will be interesting to see what Nick Castellanos does in a full season in Cincinnati. Will he hit a home run that gives his team a 4-0 lead?

The Reds did make the postseason in 2020, but then everyone in the NL Central except the Pirates did, so that’s no indicator. The Reds appear to have treaded water at best. They look like a .500 ballclub to me.

The Cubs and Reds are scheduled to play 19 times in 2021:

May 28-29-30, July 26-27-28-29 and September 6-7-8 at Wrigley Field

April 30, May 1-2, July 2-3-4 and August 16-17-18 at Great American Ballpark