This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Wes Jenkins, Bill Lack, Grant Freking, and Chad Dotson.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for the 2018 Cincinnati Reds? Worst-case?

Jason: The best case scenario is that they contend. Meaning that: Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, and Three Other Starters perform to their physical abilities. IF that were to happen, the Reds could surprise a lot of people.

Worst case scenario: The pitching is a disaster again, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, and Scooter Gennett all turn into pumpkins but, for some reason, Winker and Senzel aren’t allowed to/able to fill in the gaps and then it’s 2017 all over again. I am the eternal optimist because it’s more fun that way, but I think the best case is a lot more likely than the worst case. I also think we’ll know pretty quickly. Pay attention to what’s said about Winker and Senzel in the spring AND to how much they play. Pay attention to how BobSteve, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, and Tyler Mahle look with their breaking stuff. Pay attention to how Disco looks. Those things will probably tell you what kind of year it’s going to be.

Wes: Best-case scenario:
Winker RF (receives ROY votes)
Senzel 2B (wins Rookie of the Year)
Votto 1B (wins MVP)
Duvall LF
Suarez 3B (wins Silver Slugger)
Barnhart C
Scooter and/or Peraza SS (has a positive WAR)
Pitcher (requires seven or less starters, i.e. no injuries)
Hamilton CF

Worst-case scenario:
Hamilton CF (ugh)
Peraza SS (UGH)
Votto 1B (3rd in MVP voting despite another career year)
Duvall LF
Suarez 3B (regresses)
Schebler RF
Gennett 2B (ughhhhhhh give me Senzel)
Barnhart C
Pitcher (another carousel with 12+ riders)

With a couple bench bats, that first team looks so good. So, so good. Like maybe even competing good. (I’m knocking on wood, don’t worry.) Sadly, the second team is far too normal at this point. 100+ loses, here we come again.

Bill: Realistic, best-case? The Reds pitching comes together, they answer the questions in the bullpen and at SS and CF, and they compete for a wild card playoff spot. If they could get into the playoffs, who know where that goes? Stranger things have happened.

Worst-case? The pitching continues to struggle, the long list of potential starters either stays injury-prone or ineffective, their other franchise questions linger and something really terrible happens like the Reds lose Joey Votto or Eugenio Suarez for an extended period of time and Reds fans suffer through the “Groundhog Day” of 2016 and 2017 again, as the “rebuild” continues with no end in sight.

Grant: Best case: Jesse Winker starts 150+ games in left field. Nick Senzel is fully integrated into the lineup sometime after the Super Two cutoff in the middle of June, playing mostly at second base but also seeing spot starts at third base, left field, and right field. Two or three of the young starters (Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis, Tyler Mahle, et. al) emerge behind Luis Castillo, while a few others settle into multi-inning bullpen roles. Homer Bailey pitches like an All-Star in the first half of the season and convinces a desperate starting pitching-needy contender to take on most of the last year ($23M) of his contract. Jose Peraza settles into a comfortable role — whether that’s at shortstop, in center field, or a super utility role that sees him play all around the diamond and make regular late-inning pinch running appearances. The team wins around 80 games. Feeling confident that the rebuilding has at last bore contending fruit, next winter GM Dick Williams aggressively upgrades the roster by shipping out some the Reds’ prospect depth from Double-A and up, while also spending the savings the Reds have accumulated since 2015.

Worst case: The opposite of most of the above, namely the young pitchers failing to develop and/or failing to stay healthy. Around the NL Central, the Brewers continue their rise and finally find a taker for Ryan Braun; the Cardinals swindle Derek Jeter for Giancarlo Stanton, acquiring the power presence their lineup requires without surrendering promising young starters Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes; the Pirates regain their 2013-15 form in Andrew McCutchen’s final season with the club; and the Cubs pull another massive trade to aide their pitching woes by sending Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez and minor league SP Adbert Alzolay (Cubs No. 3 prospect per to the Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna. The NL Central is fully weaponized into the AL East of yesteryear, cutting into the Reds’ odds of becoming a year-to-year contender.

Chad: Best-case: Reds go 162-0, breaking all team records on their way to yet another world championship. Worst-case: Reds only win 101 games, and it takes them seven full games to win the World Series.

Hey, it’s November 2017. Permit me to dream, okay?

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at

Join the conversation! 47 Comments

  1. Realistic best case – It comes down to four things: Health of the injured starters (Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan); Development (and use) of the young starters (Castillo, Stephenson, Romano, Mahle, Reed, Lorenzen and Garrett); Use (and development) of the new bats (Senzel and Winker); and health of the remaining starters (Votto, Suarez, Barnhart, Schebler and the new CF and SS / Cozart). And I suppose I embedded some trades and upgrades in that fourth item. If all four fall right the Reds are a playoff contender. If neither of the first two work out for the rotation they’re cooked and it’s another losing year. There are so many options for starting pitchers that so long as Price and the FO don’t run out the Feldman / Arroyo innings eating debacle again I think a run at a wildcard is very possible. Best case is a hard fought division title, best reasonable case a wildcard and then who knows?

  2. Grant, do you stay up at night reading Edgar Allen Poe?

  3. Best: Playoffs.
    Worst: No playoffs and get a pick in the 10-15 range.

  4. This DRO was expected and appropriate to consider, but the worst case scenario is too painful to even verbalize so the Old Cossack will simply focus on the best case scenario.

    The best case rests squarely with the pitching staff, both starters and relievers. Without the pitching stepping out and becoming a strength of the team, nothing else will matter. The offense could reprise the performance from 2017, but that will provide no better than a .500 record without the pitching.

    Bailey comes off a fully healthy off season and steps smoothly into a top-of-the-rotation and leadership position among the starters. Disco dodges the TJ bullet and reestablishes himself as another top-of-the-rotation starter. Finnegan makes a solid claim to a starting position coming out of spring training and never relinquinshes that claim. Castillo and Stephenson not only prove they belong in the starting rotation, but also prove they are ready to dominate as starters at the major league level. Mahle, Reed and Garrett dominate at AAA for the entire season. Lorenzen, Peralta and Iggy are stretched out during spring training but find no opportunities available in the starting rotation.

    Now this is where fantasy seperates from very low probablity of reality…Price has an epiphany and miraculously discovers the concept of high-leverage pitching. Price not only verbally commits to high-leverage utilization of his bullpen, but also follows through for the entire season with Iggy, Lorenzen and Peralta dedicated to multi-inning, high-leverage appearances. All three high-leverage relievers pitch 120 innings with all three relievers routinely logging three inning appearances and multi-inning saves. All three relievers excel and relish their newly defined roles.

    After discovering (tip of the baseball cap to FG and the Reds enhanced analytics department) the declining value of CF defense, DW astonishes the baseball world by filling the black hole in CF with real offensive contributions without completely sacrificing reasonable defensive contributions in CF.

    Zack Cozart wins the NL Gold Glove at SS and puts up a 6 WAR performance. Unfortunately the Reds passed on resigning Cozart and the ROX ride Cozart’s offense and defense to the NL wild card title, leaving the Reds on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

    • Where is Big Sal Romano in you best case scenario? Traded? Injured?
      I have him playing an integral part in the Reds 2018 success. More so than Stephenson.

      • Romano’s ceiling is probably a #3 starter. Stephenson’s ceiling is still a #1 starter. My hope is that Stephenson and Castillo ste up to fill the top-of-the-rotation peices the Reds need to move forward and DW has the foresight to make the moves to keep the Reds competitive for more than s 3-year window, unlike WJ. Romano would start in AAA along with Garrett, Reed and Mahle.

        If the Reds are not competing in 2018, then Bailey and Disco become available at the trade deadline for a huge prospect haul (and salary relief for Bailey), creating vacancies in the starting staff on the 25-man roster for 2 (probably Mahle and Romano) of the 4 starters from AAA. In addition, innings limitations create an additional vacancy in the starting staff on the 25-man roster for another starter (probably Garrett) from AAA. If the Reds are still competitive for a playoff wildcard, then the trades to move Bailey and Disco wait until after the 2018 season.

  5. Indeed, the best case scenario rests solely with the health of the pitching staff. If we get that, we can compete for the division despite having an offensive black hole in CF and SS.

    • I agree but when you throw in Tucker’s lack of power along with the pitcher that gives us 4 black holes which in my opinion is too many.Can’t hide that many guys in your lineup because they will be exposed unlike 2017 when we were always playing from behind.This year with the improved pitching closer games will happen more and more and I don’t want to see any of these guys at the plate with the game on the line in the late innings.

  6. Best case: Lots of Reds winter roster activity, thus NL Central Division champs.
    Worst case: GM Dick Williams stands pat like a Jocketty fool this winter and decides to ride the young pitching to another 90 loss season.

  7. Best case: 87 wins
    Worst case: 72 wins
    Expected: 80 wins

    • That’s a ridiculously high ceiling for worst case, given how injury prone this team is, given Price’s predilection for playing vets, and management’s general aloofness.

      • Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, my opinion, man. I don’t think the starting pitching could be worse than last year.

  8. rln posters are high on Senzel and Winker and low on Peraza and Hamilton.Not sure exactly why? I know the analytics argument but good lord. Winker did not look comfortable in right at all. not sure where else he could play.

    I saw Senzel a few times in Dayton and granted that is not an easy park to hit in, but it looks like his hitting was wtp at best and his fielding was so-so at third. not sure he can transition to second.

    I still think Hamilton and Peraza can be key components to a really strong line up. plus they give you good d and a good chance to score when they get on base.

    • There is a 50/50 chance that Billy Hamilton will not be a Red in 2018. There is a 40/60 chance that Peraza is not a Red in 2018. There is a < 1% chance that Winker and Senzel are not Reds in 2018.

    • Not sure where else winker could play? It’s called LF. Directly across the field from the aforementioned RF. Winker has never even once been marketed as a good fielder. He will be about average and his bat will have to carry him(looked pretty great to me even though I would have loved to see more. Not sure how you think Nick Senzel isn’t a great hitter. Pretty much every scout in the game would completely disagree with you. He is a top 15 prospect for a reason. Also, your last point. “they give you a gold chance to score when they get on base”. They literally don’t get on base, thus why they were 2 of the worst offensive producers in the league. Good lord is right, you need to read up on just about anything happening in baseball the last 20 years….

      • Edits * missing ending parentheses, and gold =good.

      • I don’t know guys . we already have enough “base cloggers” , Quoting Dusty Baker, with votto, cozart, suarez, barnhart and scooter. we have to have at least a couple guys in the line up that can score from second on a single or get from first to third on a single. we have to give Billy Hatcher some action at least. lol

        • I’m 50/50 on whether you are trolling people with these comments. But why is playing 2 guys who don’t get on base your solution to clogging the bases? Because that’s what you’re arguing for in support of hitting Billy and Peraza. Wouldn’t you rather have slow pokes that at least get on base? At least you have a chance to score?

  9. Best case: they tease us by being 3 games plus or minus away from the second wildcard until a collapse in August. It’s both fun and frustrating.

    Worst Case: Another 90-loss season. Injuries and not playing the right players in the right combinations (ie: Price makes dubious decisions).

    If this team can avoid another 90-loss season, I would be satisfied. My honest expectation is 87-88 losses.

  10. This is a way to early prognostication, but that’s ok with me.

    Without any trades or free agent signings during the winter; The difference between 2017 and 2018 is experience and progress from the pitching staff and health – Zack Cozart. If I look at it from this perspective 2018 could be an absolute bust or if health works in our favor ok. The worst case being the same record as this years team = 94 losses. The best case scenario 81-81.

    2018 will likely see a decline in overall team defense vs 2017.

    I expect Schebler, Votto, Suarez, Gennett/Herrera & Duvall to have good offensive season’s. But I think 2018 will likely see a decline in overall offense vs 2017 Votto had a career 2017 season, Cozart who had a career 2017 season.

    So the pitching has to turn the corner for much improvement in the record.

    That being said, I look forward to seeing opportunities to start for Romano, Stephenson, Castillo, Lorenzen and Mahle.

  11. Best Case
    – The Reds are around .500.
    – The Reds hire a new manager for the 2019 season.
    Worst Case
    – The Reds end up in last place again.
    – The Reds bring back Bryan Price as manager for the 2019 season.

    • Agree with your predictions, Cup O Joe, except for the “end up in last place again.”

      The Reds are among the smallest of small market teams, and have to maximize their windows of contention as they come.

      (they don’t have a track record of creating long-term sustainable success … a la Devil Magic Cardinals)

      If the focus is sorting the young pitchers and targeting a better manager to start the window in 2019, finishing last in 2018 doesn’t feel like a big deal.

      • Not really smallest of small markets. The Reds are actually in the middle 1/3 of teams by revenue (granted lower middle third). I figured they were much lower, but they’re not.

      • I stand corrected, they’ve dropped down the list from a few years ago. I guess other teams TV/advertising contracts have passed Cincy’s by?

        I see they only bettered Tampa, Miami and Oakland. A few years ago when I checked they were higher than those three and KC, Milwaukee, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Oakland and a couple of others I can’t recall now.

        Seems like Castellini isn’t pushing the right buttons since buying the team many years ago.

        • Well, there’s a surprise. Bob and family maybe aren’t that sharp as a management team as we were led to believe. The clues are ….everywhere.

      • 2013 – Reds were outside the bottom ten (middle 3rd):

        2016 – yikes, even crappy franchises passing them by:

      • 2013:

  12. The worst case scenario is Homer Bailey’s days as a productive healthy consistent power pitcher are over and the Reds are stuck with $50 million in dead money for payroll/buyout in 2018/19/2020.

    The best case scenario is the reds pitching staff remains healthy with another 1-2 breakout young pitchers and the injured 3- homer.disco.finnegan come back productive and ready to pitch 180 innings in 2019.

  13. At least the Reds are not the Braves. The Braves lose upper tier prospect INF Kevin Maitan and another prospect in C Abrahan Gutierrez as they become free agents. There might be a couple more names to come out today that the Braves will lose.

  14. Best case: 81 Wins
    Worst Case: 58 Wins (again)
    Best case Pt2: Price is fired early in the season

  15. Best case for the starting rotation is that at least half of the following comes true:

    Bailey stays healthy and pitches like its 2012-13 again
    DeSclafani returns healthy and pitches like he did in 2015
    Finnegan returns healthy and pitches like he did in the 2nd half of 2016
    Castillo continues to pitch as he did last year
    Romano builds on a strong rookie season
    Stephenson continues to improve
    Mahle continues his minor league success with the Reds
    Garrett returns and shows the same promise he did early last year

  16. Best Case: we win the WS!
    Worst Case: we lose 94 games again and Price gets a new contract.

  17. By the way, if Thursday’s question isn’t: “Can turkeys fly?” there is no hope for this website.

  18. Worst case: The reds keep Hamilton and start Peraza. Record wise…another truly horrible season of 60-something wins.

    Best Case: Hamilton is gone and Peraza rides the bench. Record wise…70-something wins (maybe .500). Also, we bring back Cozart & keep Gennett. Pitchers stay healthy and develop more.

  19. Best-case scenario:
    The Reds have a productive off-season by making 2 or 3 key trades.
    The Reds front office realizing that winning the division is the goal. (Not just winning more games than last year)
    The Reds can win 84-86 games next year IF:
    1) 2 of the 3 veteran pitchers (Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan) have above average seasons.
    2) the Reds can add a couple more quality hitters (Yelich? Cain? Verdugo?) to the core group of Votto, Suarez, Winker and Senzel.
    3) The key players stay healthy.

    Worst-case scenario:
    The Reds stay with the current projected 25-man roster.

  20. I agree with Chad. It is too early in the off season to really have a feel for things; so dream high.

    This said the success or lack of success of the pitching will largely define how good the good is or how bad the bad is.

  21. I saw on where the Cardinals have had trade discussions with the Marlins about Stanton, Yelich, and Ozuna. They’ve also had discussions with Hosmer. I know it’s only ‘discussions’, but it would be nice if there were rumors about the Reds having ‘discussions’ with teams and free agents. The only thing the Reds have done have is sign 2 minor league outfielders and resign Kivlehan to a minor league deal.

    Worst case scenario – Cardinals, and other Central Division teams, get better with trades and free agent signings and the Reds do nothing and appear happy with the status quo.

    Best case scenario – Reds are active this offseason and make a few deals to actually become a contender.

    I woke up this morning and saw the Cardinals news, and it immediately put me in a bad mood. Somebody please tell me that the Reds will be active this offseason and we will see a contender next year. Please?

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    • Somebody please tell me that the Reds will be active this offseason and we will see a contender next year. Please?

      When turkeys fly?

    • Davsmoorewvu I think your worst case is probably the right one. And have you noticed with the new managers and coaches in the majors not one of the Reds coaching staff has been mentioned. Wonder?

  22. Best case scenario for the Reds would all lie in the pitching, just like this season. They have to have at least 2 starters step up as strong #1-#2 guys. The starters have to stay healthy.

    I’ve been on the Price bandwagon. But, I’m pretty much off of it now. This guy has a pitching coach’s background. We’ve effectively had 2 pitching coaches at the major league level for the last several years, ever since Price took the reigns. And, our pitching staff has been the weakness of our team since then, with little of any improvement.

    Even the injury situations still haven’t changed. Another season where our pitching staff has been a MASH unit. I remember on here back before ST last season everyone talking about which of the young studs were going to step up and/or make it on the starting roster. If I recall correctly, pretty much all of them (talking the Finnegan/Davis/Garrett/etc. group) got injured during the season. And, the young studs we were talking about at the end of the season weren’t anywhere near that same talk at the beginning of the season.

  23. Best Case: The Reds will be better, but won’t breakthrough to actually be a contender. They will look good for a few months early in the season, then fade, as their young pitchers wear down, and the league’s hitters figure them out.

    Worst Case: They don’t really get much better, and remain in last place in the division, and there is a lot of talk about 2020 being the next year they can contend, and some players get fire saled in July for more “prospects”.

    Indeed, I don’t think the Reds have enough talent or money to climb out of the hole they are in. The Cardinals and Cubs in particular can always get into their deep pockets/farm system and come up with what they need to stay in contention from year to year. They will remain 3rd, 4th , 5th place team for the forseeable future. I really don’t see them being a serious contender again unless there is some miraculous improvement in pitching.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at


2018 Reds, Daily Reds Obsession


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