by: Jack Ward
The Reds 2016 season is off to a surprising start. The Reds swept the Phillies and took two of three from the Pirates. (Should have swept that series.) My analysis so far. I now have hope for the season. The Reds starting pitchers pitched really well and the bullpen was very good. They hit in the clutch and played great defense.
Of course before we get too excited, the Phillies are awful. So the Pirates series gave us a real chance to evaluate the Reds and the result is grade B+.
Can the Reds compete all season? Yes. Why? They have a very good offense. I hate to say it, as much as I loved Todd Frazier, but I think the Reds have upgraded at third base. Eugenio Suarez impressed me last year, and when I saw the Reds were giving him the third base job, I was intrigued. Now will he continue to hit like the first week? Of course not. Will he hit .290 or more? Yes. Will he hit 20 plus home runs. Yes. Will he drive in 80 plus runs? Maybe? But that’s not important. I like him hitting in front of Joey Votto. There Eugenio is going to get good pitches to hit. I really like this kid.
I like Votto in the number three spot. Votto will be Votto. I don’t worry about his slow start. He started slowly last year. Brandon Phillips, who I lamented that he rejected a trade to Washington, I must admit I am a big Brandon Phillips fan. I just love this guy and his presence in the Reds line up means a lot to this club and to the fan base as well as he is not showing any signs of slowing down with age.
What about Jay Bruce? Are we finally going to see him put together the kind of season we know he’s capable of? Maybe. It’s early yet. But 25 homers and 85 Rbi’s are certain if he stays healthy. I hope the Reds don’t trade him.
I saw a revived Zack Cozart and we know that Devin Mesoraco will hit. I like their lineup. Billy Hamilton’s defense is worth keeping him in the number eight slot. And I like Shebler, Holt and Duvall in left. The Reds have a very good bench.
The Reds have enough offense to win. If everyone stays healthy they will be fine offensively. The question always is pitching. Iglesias has been very good. I’m not worried about Afredo Simon. You will get a good effort from him each game. Tim Melville was good in his first start. Robert Stephenson will be the number five starter I predict and do well. And remember Homer Bailey will be back soon as well as DeSclafani. Brandon Finnegan will open against the Cubs Monday and he has been very good this spring. We
The bullpen of Jumbo Diaz, Caleb Cotham, Ross Ohlendorf, Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood looked good. And where did Dan Straily come from? Nice job by him Sunday. JJ Hoover was a little shaky getting his first save against the Phillies. Then he gives up the grand slam to Starling Marte on a terrible hanging slider. That reminded me of his awful 2014 season when he did the same thing time after time. I’m still a JJ Hoover fan. I think he will be okay. I think He is best with a fresh ninth inning. But that’s his job to get a big eight inning out every now and then.
Bottom line….I have great hope for these Reds. They have a tough first month and a half with the Pirates two more series, the Cubs two series, at the Mets and Cardinals for three and the Giants for three at home. But I came away from the first weekend very encouraged.
Until next time,
Photo Credit: Brad Mills - USA Today