In our Baseball Spotlight Cincinnati Reds 2021 season preview, we take a look at everything from last season to projections for the 2021 season. Let’s get started!
The Reds are projected to finish in fourth place in countless preseason rankings, but the National League Central is a wide-open division. The four teams at the top included Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis. Pittsburgh has no chance of winning anything in 2021.
The Reds lost Trevor Bauer in free agency, which will cause the team to take a hit, but the Reds can still surprise the league in the National League Central. For this to happen, slumps must be minimized, and the pitching staff needs to come together.
- 2020 Regular Season Record: 31-29 (.517)
- NL Central Finish: 3rd
- Postseason: Swept by Atlanta in NL Wild Card Series
- 2021 Projection: 80-82 (.494)
- NL Central: 4th
Projected Opening Day Roster
C: Tucker Barnhart
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Jonathan India
3B: Mike Moustakas
SS: Eugenio Suarez
OF: Nick Senzel
OF: Jesse Winker
OF: Nick Castellanos
C: Tyler Stephenson
IF: Kyle Farmer, Dee Strange-Gordon
OF: Shogo Akiyama, Aristides Aquino
RHP: Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Tejay Antone
LHP: Wade Miley
RHP: Lucas Sims, Noe Ramirez, Michael Lorenzen, Sal Romano, Jose De Leon, Jeff Hoffman
LHP: Amir Garrett (C), Sean Doolittle
Reds 2021 Season Preview
The Reds finished in last place in the National League Central from 2015 to 2018. When they acquired Trevor Bauer, they began to climb out of the hole. This year they have the potential to fall back towards the bottom of the division after making playoffs in 2020.
Will these three be able to carry Cincinnati to the division title? This is a possibility in the National League Central, but that’s not saying much…
The Reds lineup is not terrible if their top players do not slump as they did in 2020. The Reds made the playoffs last season, but they could have been so much better if they garnered more production from their offense.
The Reds have three major power hitters with Eugenio Suarez, Nick Castellanos, and Mike Moustakas. Suarez was awful last season, slashing .202/.312/.470. In 2018, Suarez was an All-Star with 34 home runs and 104 RBIs.
In 2019, he increased these numbers going yard 49 times and driving in 103 runners. Suarez does not need to hit 50 bombs, but he needs to hit 35+ and get on base because that’s what he is getting paid to do by the Reds.
Mike Moustakas hit 35 home runs in 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers before joining the Reds in 2020. Moustakas will bat in the second half of the lineup, and if he can produce, it will help this lineup circulate.
He needs to hit because Tucker Barnhart, Jonathan India, and the pitcher’s spot will follow. Barnhart and India, along with a pitcher, will not do much throughout the year. Barnhart, a Gold Glover catcher, does not bring a lot to the table when it comes to his offense, and India is a rookie without a lot of pop.
Joey Votto will need to contribute this year as well for the Reds to make a divisional push. Votto, who is 37 years old, is coming to the end of his career. He has done more than most in his years of MLB service, making six All-Star appearances and claiming an MVP Award.
Votto only hit .226 last year, and he will need to improve in 2021, especially in the three-hole. I do not expect Votto to put the league on notice, but I think a bounce-back year is in his immediate future.
The Pitching Staff
Luis Castillo will move into the ace role with Trevor Bauer making the transition to Los Angeles. Castillo, who is 28 years of age, was an All-Star in 2019. Castillo is a game-changing pitcher that can strike out any batter in baseball regularly.
Expect the pitcher to rack up close to 220 strikeouts and 200 innings of work this season. Sonny Gray is the second-best pitcher on the staff, but his Opening Day status is questionable. Gray may start the season on the Injured List, but it’s unlikely.
Gray has been battling some minor injuries, but he has stated that he wants to be in the rotation at the beginning of the season. Gray is another pitcher who can handle a ton of innings and collect over 200 strikeouts.
Gray was good last season, but he was great in 2019. With the quality in the back end of the rotation, Gray will need to return to great in 2021.
The lone southpaw in the starting rotation is Wade Miley. Miley only threw 14 innings last season for the Reds, and he was terrible. Miley needs run support to be efficient, so hopefully he receives some offensive help. If he does not, Miley will have a difficult time heating up in 2021.
The Reds bullpen could be the best part of their team this season. Amir Garrett, who will close for Cincinnati, is a stud. This will be his first-year closing games, and I expect him to fit into this role perfectly.
Look for Jeff Hoffman to contribute out of the bullpen. Hoffman can handle a lot of innings for a reliever. He will not set up Garret for saves, but he will clean up messes made from starters in the middle innings.
Tanner’s Projection: 80-82
The Reds are not exceptional, but nobody is perfect in the National League Central, so do not forget about Cincinnati.
MORE FROM BASEBALL SPOTLIGHT: If you enjoyed our Reds 2021 season preview, be sure and check out all of our MLB team and division previews before the 2021 season’s first pitch is thrown!
Baseball Spotlight’s MLB 2021 Season Team Previews
Baseball Spotlight’s MLB Division Preview Series