This week’s respondents are Nick Kirby, Chris Garber, Clay Marshall, Ashley Davis, and Steve Mancuso.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: When will the Reds return to the playoffs?

Nick: I believe the Reds were a healthy rotation away from being a .500 team last year. I think this team returns to the playoffs by 2019. I am hoping for 2018, but I think 2019 is more realistic. The Reds infield was arguably their best ever in 2017. I don’t think this team is too many pieces away from competing for at least a second wild-card spot.

Chris: I expect to see Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Turner back in the playoffs next fall. Maybe Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart, too.

Players wearing Cincinnati laundry will play in a Wild Card game in 2019.

Clay: I’d love for the answer to be sooner than later — or at least, sooner than we realistically expect. It seems that many recent “rebuilds” have struck gold a year earlier than was planned, and I’d love for Cincinnati to be the next such example. We know the Reds can hit; we know they can field; and we know they have umpteen young pitchers with potential. Now we just need a handful to realize that potential, for the veterans to stay healthier than they have in recent years and for GM Dick Williams to be ready to supplement whatever holes need to be filled. That said, I could see the team making a run this year if all the cards fell the right way, but that’s a big, big if. 2019 seems more plausible.

Ashley: As much as I want to say next season, the Reds won’t make a return to the playoffs until 2019. If the young pitchers can stay healthy, the Reds will be improved next season and will make a run similar to the Brewers run this past season, but, like the Brewers, the Reds will fall just short in 2018. Watch out in 2019 though. Nick Senzel will have gotten some experience at the MLB-level, and the young pitchers also will have had enough experience underneath them. The future really is bright for this franchise.

Steve: 2020. I see the Reds taking big steps forward in both 2018 and 2019. But making the postseason is hard. They have a big chance to compete in 2019 and that could very well prove to be the right answer to this question. But if I were betting, I don’t think it will happen until 2020, when the Reds will be led by Luis Castillo, Hunter Greene, Nick Senzel, Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, Taylor Trammell and Joseph Daniel Votto.

30 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    2018 is a real long shot – it would take (very) unexpected and significant gains in the rotation – health and efficacy of Bailey, Finnegan and DeSclafani, maturation of Castillo, Mahle, Stephenson, Garrett, Reed, etc. It’s hard to imagine any real gains on offense, especially if Cozart is not resigned. They should be better than 2017, but not playoff better.
    2019 is quite possible. It will likely come down to starting pitching development, health on offense, and the maturation of Senzel and Winker. I’d say a winning record and at least the hope of a wild card are reasonable expectations though, so maybe 2019.
    2020. Book it, and I’m looking at a division title, not a wild card. Add Senzel and Winker, probably Trammell and maybe Shed Long to Barnhart, Votto, Suarez, Schebler and the shortstop of the future (who will have been acquired or identified by then) and you have a terrific offense and solid defense. A rotation made up of the thrivers (not just survivors) from DeSclafani, Finnegan, Castillo, Mahle, Reed, Romano, Garrett, and the young stud Hunter Greene, and you have an imposing set of starters. See you at the playoffs.

  2. WVRedlegs

    If GM Dick Williams can make a couple of astute trades this winter, I’ll say 2018. If not, it may be 2019 if those trades are made next winter. The Reds barely have the starting pitching horses to compete, let alone contend. Most of the younger pitchers have been wash outs and waiting for something that will never arrive is senseless. Three young SP’s have ascended and can be counted on in Castillo, Romano and Stephenson. Mahle needs some more time at AAA.
    No more wasted time auditioning and sorting SP’s. Any more sorting needs to happen at Louisville before they get to Cincinnati. The Reds need more than an innings eater SP (i.e. Feldman), they need a good innings eater SP. Unfortunately, the Reds young SP’s will be on innings limits, AGAIN this year. I think Bailey showed he can be counted on. DeSclafani and Finnegan?? Better have an insurance policy in place for those two or a better SP plan.

  3. WVRedlegs

    Hunter Greene on the Reds in 2020?? Talk about a big ole keg of Gorilla Dust. That is Fantasy Island type of dreaming. The dude quit pitching to high schoolers before the draft and got lit up by Rookie level hitters and Instructional League hitters. Greene got smoked to the tune of a 12.46 ERA. Let the guy learn how to pitch professionally to professional batters before bestowing upon him such lofty expectations. It would be quite the feat for Greene to even be in AA for the 2020 season. Patience with Greene. The patience, however, is wearing thin for winning baseball in Cincinnati. Go get a good SP this winter.

    • MrRed

      WV, while I can understand a cautious outlook with any young pitcher (regardless of how talented), I wouldn’t try and bolster your argument by making any conclusions after his 12 innings of pro debut. If he’s lights out for the next 12 are you going to proclaim him to be the next Kershaw?

      • WVRedlegs

        No! Let him get a full season in under his belt before making any MLB ETA’s. He is under professional pitching coaches now. Let him learn some of the nuances of pitching and conditioning, and come to MLB ready and prepared to pitch to ML hitters. Just 2 seasons in the minors isn’t enough time especially for a pitcher coming out of high school. He barely pitched in his senior year of high school and barely at all in his first pro season. Give him time to work on what he does throw and maybe to develop another pitch or two. That will take some time. Greene really won’t be needed in 2020, but mid-2021 or 2022 he should be ready for a try.

      • Colorado Red

        But, you cannot call him a failure now, like you are doing.
        Give him a chance.

      • WVRedlegs

        CO Red, no I didn’t call him a failure. I am saying he won’t be MLB ready after 2 seasons of minors ball. He didn’t pitch much this past season at any level. When he did pitch, the results weren’t anything to crow about. This seemed like a lost development year for him, so 2 years isn’t enough. Expecting him in 2020 for his age 20 season is a bit much. I am saying give him time, not calling him a failure by any stretch. No rush is needed. Greene will be on a 90-100 inning limit in 2018 and about 120-130 for 2019. Give him time to get some innings in and his innings totals up. Do you want to be in a pennant chase in 2020 and have to shut Greene down in August??

      • Ernest Howerton

        I never played the game but I’ve been a Reds fan since 1968.From what I can understand from listening to the commentary,is the young pitchers making adjustments when the hitters make them. I hope the Reds have the makings of another Goodman.

      • TR

        Are you referring to Ival Goodman who was a good right fielder for the Reds in the 1930’s and early 40’s.

    • JREIS

      I still think he is best suited for shortstop . he is athletic and it is waist of athleticism to let him pitch every 5 days… he is going to be a big draw and needs to be In the line up everyday

      • MrRed

        If you want athletic SS, the Reds already got one in the their system. Alfredo Rodriguez. He’s better SS prospect in terms of athleticism and fielding than Hunter Greene. AlfRod may not be that good with a bat but neither is Greene. Anyone who’s carving out a living evaluation prospects will tell you that Greene is a better pitching prospect than SS prospect and it isn’t even close.

      • greenmtred

        And I would add that pitching requires athleticism.

      • greenmtred

        I’ll also add that the Reds’ infield was certainly good in 2017, but arguably the best, Nick? BRM would argue that point, so I guess it is arguable.

  4. TR

    The Reds will see the playoffs when their starting pitching coalesces with an ace to lead the staff. When that will happen involves the action or inaction of the front office and the maturity of the young pitchers.

  5. Jim Walker

    When they do. Getting pitching and position talent both in sync for 2020 could be a challenge. 2019 might make for a pleasant 1 off if things break right across the league and division. Otherwise 2021 or later?

    • lwblogger2

      Makes me sick to my stomach to think that you’re probably right on this. I was originally hoping for 2018 then after the Chapman and Frazier trades I said 2019. Now I could see 2019 if everything goes right for them but more realistically 2021. The rebuild hasn’t gone well in my opinion. There is also apparently very little money in the budget for free-agent spending and it’s historically been difficult to get free-agents to come to Cincy.

      • Jim Walker

        As I see things, aside from Winker and Senzel there is a gap to home grown positional talent. Meanwhile the respectable core they have now will be aging chronologically and in service time to where they will be old, FA’s or very expensive by the time this gap is filled.

        Depending on what the Reds do with trades, by 2020 they could be in a reverse position of what they were in 2017, i.e. very strong in pitching and position poor.

        It all goes back to not having a plan to rebuild the pitching in 2014 or so.

  6. Ernest Howerton

    I just hope somebody can throw strikes,and not self destruct like Homer managed to do so many times.We can still catch the ball,with good bats.Maybe surprise some people next yr with a wild card spot

  7. JREIS

    in general we have to get way more athletic with our position players to compete again. the reds are best when they are flying around the bases, stealing bases, double stealing, hitting and running, running and hitting, going from first to third on a single. look at the highlights from the big red machine and 1990 club. in order to get that we have to get more athletic.. even our young talent, winker, Sinzel are not really what you call athletic guys. More high obp guys. so I would say it will be a while before we compete again at a world series level anyway.

    I think we have a good young core of pitchers so I would focus on the next few drafts on getting as many athletic, fast position players as we can.

    • lwblogger2

      Senzel has better than average speed and makes good decisions on the bases. Winker doesn’t have good speed but is capable of going 1B to 3B and scoring from 2B on a base knock. Votto and Barnhart are really the only 2 guys I’d describe as “slow” in the starting lineup. The game has changed since 1990 and it is more a power game than a speed game. Having guys that can run is a great thing but you also need guys that can get on base. Guys who smack the ball out of the park are helpful too. I don’t care how fast a guy is if he doesn’t get on base. Peraza is plenty fast but his speed alone hasn’t helped the Reds win. Hamilton’s excellent speed helps him most as an outfielder and makes a difference in CF more than on the bases. It would be more of a benefit on the bases if he could get on base more. I’d take a guy with average speed, who makes good reads in CF displaying fair range for the position, gets on base at a .320+ clip, and slugs at a .400+ clip; over Hamilton. Speed is nice to have but other things are more important in today’s game.

  8. Redsfan4life

    Odds are 50/50 at best that Greene ever makes the majors. Kid that young throwing that hard. Tommy John written all over him. It was IMO a horrible pick. Should have drafted a bat.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Barring injury, he will make the majors. Whether he will become a dominant starter is another question altogether.

    • MrRed

      And yet, 50/50 is still good odds in the prospect game, even for high draft picks. So it really doesn’t make it a horrible pick. Especially when you consider that his ceiling is as high as you can get.

  9. Tom Mitsoff

    Regarding the statement that the Reds’ 2017 infield might have been their best ever, I’ll still go with Perez at first, Morgan at second, Concepcion at shortstop and Rose at third in the mid-70s. Two are in the Hall of Fame, and the other two should be, in my opinion.

    • Jim Walker

      And ironically the Hit King probably has the weakest HoF credentials, at that particular position, of the group.

  10. cupofcoffee1955

    The Reds were 68-94 this year. I am hoping for a .500 record next year, that would be a big jump. Like to see more people coming back to GABP. With that being said, I see a Wild Card Team in 2019. I look forward to the moves GM Williams makes over the winter.

  11. Sandman

    Oh, I believe we’ll get back to the playoffs. When? I’m not sure even though the majority of the writers seem to believe that it’s gonna be 2019.

    I just hope this rebuild brings us a couple championships (or more) bcuz otherwise it’ll have been a failure in my book.

    • lwblogger2

      Would you settle for an NL pennant or two? It is so, so very hard to win the World Series. It’s so hard in fact that some teams in large markets took 100 years, more or less, between titles. Other teams have decades long droughts. These franchises have had some really, really good teams that couldn’t win the whole enchilada.

      What would make this rebuild successful in my opinion are deep playoff runs and at least 1 NL Pennant. World Series or it’s declared a ‘bust’ just isn’t realistic with how the postseason works. I’d also like to see the need for additional rebuilds to be almost eliminated completely through draft, development, and smart front-office moves; that keep the team always within a couple years of being in contention.

      These teams have had longer Championship droughts than the Reds:

      – Tampa Bay (expansion team 1998)
      – Baltimore
      – Detroit
      – Seattle
      – Texas
      – Oakland
      – Washington/Montreal
      – NY Mets
      – Milwaukee
      – Pittsburgh
      – Los Angeles Dodgers
      – Colorado (expansion team 1995)
      – San Diego

      That’s close to half the MLB teams. These cities had some really good teams in there that just couldn’t go all the way.

  12. thekidredblog

    They might be wildcard contenders in 2018-2019 earliest, but they could be serious contenders in 2020-2022. Hunter Greene will probably be up from 2021-2022, and with Senzel, Votto, and even Winker by his side the Reds could be seriously hard hitters.