2019 didn’t go as well as fans had hoped. Starting pitching was great, but the bullpen was not. Wandy Peralta, Zach Duke, David Hernandez, Jared Hughes, Kevin Gausman, and others are gone. How the bullpen will shake out is yet to be known, but I wanted to highlight a breakout and bounce back candidate.
Bounce Back: Raisel Iglesias
Honorable mention: Sal Romano
Since transitioning from a starter to a closer, Iglesias has been a hell of a pitcher. 2016 169 ERA+ 2017 181 ERA+ 2018 176 ERA+ 2019….109 ERA+. Iglesias had an ERA of 2.53 or lower from 2016-2018 but it ballooned to 4.16 in 2019. 2019 saw a new career high in saves, 34, while also setting a career high in losses, 12, up from his previous high of 7. Iglesias was disgruntled with his role while fans were upset with his play leading to trade rumors. 2020 is a new year and I think Iglesias will have a major bounce back.
We have all seen the talent. There’s no question if he has the stuff. For whatever reason, relievers seem to have on and off years (Looking at you Hughes and Hernandez). Iglesias threw his sinker only 10% of the time last season, which is the lowest of his career. He’s thrown it as much as 40% (2015) and his previous low was 22.6% (2017). Getting back to the sinker could help Iglesias improve in 2020.
Iglesias’ “advanced” analytics look great in the above graphic (thanks baseball savant). Spin rates have never been talked about more and Iglesias still looks good in that department. There’s simply too much talent in his arm to have another pedestrian season.
Prediction from Baseball Reference: 3.82 ERA 20 saves 1.227 WHIP.
Breakout: Joel Kuhnel
Honorable Mention: Jose De Leon
2019 saw a #66 steal the hearts of Cincinnati and now a different #66 will do the same. 6’5” 260 isn’t quiet Jumbo Diaz size but Kuhnel stands out, and so does his fastball. Topping out at 99 MPH Kuhnel has the stuff to blow past hitters. Bullpen arms don’t need several pitches if the two you throw, you throw well. His fastball slider combo could lead to plenty of strikeouts. The bullpen is starving for another reliable arm and Kuhnel will have every chance to earn a role. When I watch him pitch it reminds me of Bobby Jenks, now let’s hope he can pitch as well as Jenks. Still only 24 years old, as Sinatra once said the best is yet to come.
Prediction from Baseball Reference: 4.50 ERA 1.300 WHIP
Here’s a video of some heat:
Predicting the Final Stretch
Let’s take a look at what’s left for the Reds in the 2020 Regular Season and what they need to do to make it to the Playoffs
September 18th, the weather is cooling down, football is starting (Bengals 0-2), every restaurant is putting pumpkin in everything, and the Reds have playoff hopes……wait what?! Yes, that’s right. The Reds are alive in September. Usually, these are the days of expanded roster players eating up innings as the season drags to the end. Not this year. Your Cincinnati Reds are playing for postseason baseball.
We all knew the Reds needed to get the four-game sweep of the Pirates. 4 games against one of the worst teams with so much on the line. Well, the Reds got it done. A clean sweep. This sweep, combined with the Cardinals losing a few games, leaves the Reds in sole possession of second place in the central. Now, I wouldn’t assume they will be there come September 27th. The Cardinals do have doubleheaders today (Friday) and next Friday and we know it can be hard to win twice in a day. They also play the Pirates (15-34), Royals (23-26), and Brewers (21-29) to finish the season. Favorable to say the least. The Reds have the White Sox (33-17), Brewers (21-29), and Twins (31-21).
The White Sox might be my favorite team to watch this year. A mixture of young studs and all-star vets, this team has a ton of offense. Tim Anderson might win back to back batting titles. I don’t want to sound like a southside fan, but let’s be honest, this team is likable. It’s going to be tough to win this series. They did recently clinch a playoff spot, but don’t confuse that with them “resting” starters. Reds pitching will have to be damn near flawless and the offense probably needs to give them 4 runs for a win. Prediction: Take 1 of 3 (Reds: 26-28)
We all know the Brewers. A team that has been solid the past few years lost some key players and Yelich is hitting .208. They aren’t what they thought they would be, but they won’t just fold. They will not give up on their postseason hopes until they are officially eliminated. The Reds are 4-3 vs the Brew Crew this year. An important 3 game series, the Reds could pick up ground here. We have seen how they have played the Brewers to a nearly .500 record this year, so I doubt a sweep happens. Prediction: Take 2 of 3. (Reds 28-29)
The Twins are right behind the White Sox. 1 and 2 in their division. However, I don’t find them as “scary” as the White Sox. Like the White Sox, the Twins are in the same division as the Indians, who Trevor Bauer pitched for before the Reds. Bauer will know some of these Batters and that alone could help him steal a win (assuming he pitches in the series.) The Reds will have their backs against the wall with their playoff hopes on the line. However, the Twins have a better lineup. Prediction: Take 1 of 3 (Reds 29-31).
*Keep in mind I do not have pitching matchups*
Will that be good enough to make the playoffs? Hard to tell. Many have said 30 wins gets you in. Maybe another team falls apart down the stretch. We are in the time of scoreboard watching. In that time of year where we stay up late to watch a west coast game and cheer hard for a Diamondbacks win (or some other “random” team). I love it. I love the intensity and game on the line feeling. Each win feels monumental.
Enjoy the ride.
Dugout Mugs Chat with Pete Rose September 15 at 9 PM
Join our friends from Dugout Mugs Tuesday night as they chat with Pete Rose
Our friends from Dugout Mugs are having a chat with Reds legend Pete Rose tomorrow night, September 15th, at 9:00 PM EST. They will be promoting their new line of mugs which feature the Hit King (and look good, too) as well as holding an “ask me anything” type segment where fans are encouraged to submit questions here.
Though embroiled in controversy off the field, Rose was one of the best to ever play on the field. I’m not sure we will ever see anyone approach 4256 career hits mostly because I’m not sure we will ever see a player put together a 24-year career with a 162-game average of 194 hits. It’s not just longevity but also the consistency with which Rose played for the length that he played.
Most Reds fans would agree he is one of the best to ever wear a Reds uniform and you will have a chance to drop Rose a question that they will talk about on the Dugout Mugs Facebook live event. Make sure to also tune in at 9:00 PM!
Analyzing Moustakas: Now and in the Future
So far there has been very little production from Moose, but should the Reds consider shaking it up with him?
MOOOOOSSSEEEE. December 5th, 2019 the Reds surprised many with a splash signing. And by big, I mean BIG. The largest free agent deal in club history. 4 years at $64 million for Moose to come in and fill the hole at second. When he signed, many in the baseball world thought the Reds were making a mistake. A 32 year old player who doesn’t hit for a high average but hits for power coming in to solidify the middle of the Reds lineup.
So far, the deal has not worked out for the Reds. He has battled injuries and has been limited to 84 at bats through 23 games the slugger has struggled to find his grove. A career .214/.310/.439 hitter, Moose is hitting .214/.333/.314 so far this season. After hitting 35 homers last season, his total sits at 2 in 2020. No one expected him to be a gold glove fielder at second, but he hasn’t made an error so far this season.
So what should the Reds do with Moose in 2020?
The short answer, nothing. You don’t invest this much money into a free agent and make drastic decisions on him after 84 at bats. I don’t think anyone is calling for him to get benched, but frustration and worry is growing. Moose simply needs to get in a rhythm. The options to fill in for Moose at second are not exactly upgrades. Farmer, Galvis, Blandino, and Robel Garcia are the 40 man roster options. What about Nick Senzel?!?!? Senzel was thought to be the 2B of the future, but to the surprise of many made the change to CF last season. In spring training he saw time in CF and nowhere else. He is currently injured, again, but moving him to second would leave a huge hole in center, as we are seeing right now.
The future for Moose?
Let’s start with the contract
2021- 32 yrs old – $14 mil
2022- 33 – $16 mil
2023- 34 – $18 mil
2024- 35 $20 mil ($20 mil is a team option, $4 mil is the buyout)
One thing we all know is that Reds fans get UPSET when older players are making big money. I would be beyond surprised if we see Moose playing second into his mid 30’s. I see two likely scenarios; DH or 1B. Votto turns 37 on September 10th and his days are numbered. He too has a $20 mil team option in 2024 and a $7 mil buyout but I find it hard to believe he is still around then. Moose could easily slide to first. He’s already seen time there in 2020 and has logged 65 innings at first in his career. The Reds lack first base depth and it’s common to see subpar defenders make the move there.
Will the Reds regret the deal?
Too early to tell. However, Cincy had to overpay on the back end for this deal. We all knew that from day 1. Moose was tired of taking one year deals. Cincy hasn’t been a good team recently. Want to know how to attract players to teams that are unproven? Giv3e them money and term. Being in a win now mode means making moves that make sense for the current team life cycle, but might hurt in the long run. That’s the cost of winning. The issue with this right now is…..well….the Reds aren’t doing much of that “winning” thing.