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Can you smell it? Can you smell the fresh cut grass, the hot dogs sizzling on their grills, the dirt rubbing against the newly minted leather? Can you hear the mowers whirring, the organ starting up, the smack of the ball against the bullpen catcher’s mitt? Or can you just feel it in your core, no matter where you are, that sunny spring days are coming to Cincinnati and that BASEBALL IS BACK, BABY.

I, for one, am giddy.

If you followed this column at all last year, you know it was filled with random games and gimmicks and probably way too many tweets. Well this year will be a little different because your Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay isn’t interested in distracting from the on-field product, but amplifying it this time around. The Reds are finally — FINALLY  — worth devoting hours of energy and attention to again, and that must be recognized.

All of that being said, this first issue, Volume 1 of the 2018 Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay if you will, will adhere closely to the column’s roots. There will be no deep-diving analysis, no player profiles, no righteous indignation at the front office for doing X when they should’ve done Y and how could they ever be so Z?!?!

No, there will be none of that. Because here, in this first volume of 2018, I will attempt to draw a roadmap for the rest of the Reds’ season, predicting the most unpredictable sport for the best team in the whole dang world.

General Predictions:

  • Reds win 15 of their first 20 games….
  • ….but then quickly lose 22 of their next 30.
  • Tyler Mahle emerges as the Reds’ ace by the All Star break, with 9+ wins and a sub-3.00 ERA.
  • Amir Garrett resents Mahle’s emergence and demolishes the competition post break, with the Reds winning every single one of his post-break starts.
  • Four Reds are named to the All-Star team, none of them named Joey Votto sadly 🙁
  • Luis Castillo doesn’t reach the absurd projections assigned to him, but quietly becomes the most dependable pitcher on staff. Finishes season with 150 IP, 225 Ks, and a 3.20 FIP.
  • In three combined starts against the Reds, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner cede 22+ runs. They represent the two pitcher’s three worst starts of the season.
  • Raisel Iglesias records 125+ strikeouts in his first full season as closer.
  • Three weeks into the season, Eugenio Suarez will have more steals than Billy Hamilton.
  • Scooter Gennett will hit less than four home runs over the course of the season but will have a four double game.
  • Nick Senzel will receive Rookie of the Year consideration despite really only playing half a season.
  • The rotation at the end of the season will be Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano.
  • The Reds finish 80-82, better than pretty much anyone expected.

Joey Votto Predictions:

  • Joey Votto has three 40+ on base streaks over the course of the season.
  • Joey Votto will anger at least one prominent fan from the Cardinals, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and surprisingly, Marlins. (The Marlins have fans?)
  • Joey Votto will hit more homers than Aaron Judge.
  • Joey Votto will throw a pitch for the Reds during a ridiculous 20+ inning affair in late July or early August.
  • Joey Votto will record the highest WAR of his career ( > 7.5)

Front Office Predictions:

  • Adam Duvall will have another near-All Star first half before being traded to the Phillies who have had a surprisingly strong season.
  • Nick Senzel will be called up for good on June 3.
  • Shed Long takes over 2B, pushing ROY-contender Nick Senzel to short by early August. Shed Long never relinquishes the position and Jose Peraza is sent to AAA for good.
  • Devin Mesoraco will be traded to a fringe contender long before the July 31 deadline in exchange for a top-50 prospect and a throw in.
  • Bryan Price will be let go at season’s end.

Well that’s it everyone. You don’t even need to watch the games anymore; you’ve got the scoop. Happy you didn’t drop all that money on MLB.tv now, right?

Odds are, most of these predictions will be wrong. I mean, just look at my March Madness bracket: Virginia was going to win it all! (Sorry Chad. We’re all really, very, truly sorry.) But it’s a new season and nothing matters anyway because Reds baseball is back and the Cardinals still have yet to win a game.

Scouting Report:

So I won’t be doing the Kangaroo Court Fees segment from last year again because this is a season of optimism and fining all of these new guys for trying their best seems Scrooge-esque. Also, I actually accomplished most of the fines I put on myself in the last Rain Delay column, so setting myself up for more goals sounds like just too much work.

What will be sticking around though is this Scouting Report section, where I forcibly make you all care about both my dynasty fantasy team and my narcissistic quest to be the most viewed Redleg Nation author.

Some updates and refreshers:

Last season, my fantasy team — Kangaroo Court Fees — went 4-17 and finished last in the league. While that makes it sound like my team is in a sorry state, which it is, it also means that I landed Shohei Ohtani in our offseason waiver draft. It’s not much, but the Japanese Babe Ruth has to be a start right? Anyway, here’s my current team going into year 3 of a five-year dynasty league, suggestions appreciated:

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As for authorial views, I finished sixth at season’s end, falling 7,000 views behind Matt Wilkes, and many, many views behind Chad, Steve, Nick, and Jason. This year, I will be coming back with a vengeance, writing content that you people actually want, and still probably finishing five or six. What can I say, I know my place. The current standings:

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Well….I’ve got a lot of work to do. BUT, get used to looking up Matt Wilkes.

If you have any predictions of your own or any future column suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter. I’m a man of a people now. Narcissistic, maybe, but of the people. You lovely, adoring internet people.

Join the conversation! 49 Comments

  1. I am a big Mahle fan. He has done everything he could throughout his minor league career, his cup of coffee last year, and this spring to justify his ceiling so far. However, his ceiling is that of a #3 starter, which is still good. Castillo is more than likely an ace or a good #2 starter. Who do you slot in between those two. More on that later………… (like 9 or 10 months from now)

    I would like Mez shopped at the trade deadline, if he is/remains healthy (and that’s a big if). Trade Duvall if the package is worth it, otherwise it’s kinda pointless. I don’t see Shed Long making the majors this year. Next year for sure.

    Otherwise, I like what you wrote here. My 2018 record Prediction: 76-86 (trending upwards is what matters)

  2. Last year the Reds broke camp with a 4 man rotation of Feldman, Finnegan, Garrett, & R. Davis with 5th starter B. Arroyo to join team as needed. Finnegan injured & replaced with Adleman after 2 starts. This years rotation won’t be quite as volatile but predicting the Reds record 1 game at a time? Got a coin to toss?

  3. “Well….I’ve got a lot of work to do. BUT, get used to looking up Matt Wilkes.”

    Oh, it’s on!

  4. August will be interesting. Mahle went 160 innings last year, so 180 this year. Garrett prolly in a 140 innings limit. Finnegan 140. Romano 160. Homer? Lol, Disco?

    Imagine a (crazy) scenario where we’re 72-64 but we have no MLB starters with innings left! If Bob Steve has 120 innings by then at AAA… is he the guy?

    • You restated a significant detail that really needed to be restated. There will be innings limitations for some of the starters and that could conclict with a playioff run IF the Reds are competitive this season. That’s why there needs to be serious consideration and attention to innings pitched by the starters, especially at AAA.

      While Mahle and Stephenson are in AAA, they should be limited in their innings per outing. Bailey is older and his innings probably won’t be restricted unless they get really high. He could be a very important factor as an innings eater.

      Castillo pitched 170 innings in 2017, so he should be good-to-go.
      Reed pitched 170 innings in 2017, so he should be good-to-go.
      Romano is probably facing a 180 innings limit this season.
      Mahle is probably facing a 180 innings limit this season.
      Garrett is probably facing a 180 innings limit this season.
      Stephenson is probably facing a 180 innings limit this season.

      DeSclafani probably won’t be restricted after missing 2 months on the DL.
      Finnegan is a special case and I wouldn’t even venture a guess for him.

      Innings limits are not super critical, but the Reds could easily make some minor manipulations to ensure everyone is available at the end of the season…just in case.

      • Honestly, I’m not worried at all if 180 IP is the limit for these guys. If we get 2 starters who throw 180 IP, I’ll be pretty happy. 18 NL pitchers threw at least 180 IP last season. Just 18. Thrilled I say!

    • I stated this in another thread. August will be very interesting. It is expected the Reds will have everyone on board by then. Many are expecting the Reds to be a better team in the second half.
      However there is one obstacle in place, the schedule. The Reds are scheduled to have 27 games vs. expected contenders in August and 1 game vs. a non-contender. The expected contenders list can change by August, but not very significantly.

      • It’s an interesting conundrum because throttling innings carefully throughout the year may cost us wins (Jackson Stephens up for spot start via 10 day DL a la Dodgers “arm fatigue” game played last year), yet may allow pitchers to get into September. Will be interesting to watch.

  5. If Billy gets 350+ at bats they will finish 72-90. If Winker gets 550 at bats they will finish 84-78.

  6. WHAT!?!?!?…A TV game and no game thread? Hrmph!

  7. Bailey’s facing the ‘A’ team for the Rox today. A good test in his final warmup to opening day. Price has his RH lineup going today against Kyle Freeland.

  8. Billy Hamilton enters today’s game (leading off of course) with a higher OPS than Joey Votto. Price also has Winker hitting in the #2 hole against a LHP.

  9. Game time. 1st pitch in 10 minutes.

  10. Hamilton just lead off with a line drive triple…OVER…the CF head. Winker drives in Hamilton with a single.

  11. Homer looks good today. 2.0 IP, 1-H, 1-SO and a lot of weak contact.

  12. Schebler hits a 110 mph rocket into the Trevor story shift.homer looks good.

  13. And then homer rips the double to the wall.

  14. Hamilton hit a line drive double…OVER…the LF head, driving in Bailey, who doubled to lead off the 3rd.

    • He’s changed his hands. Looks much better.

    • Somebody needs to check this version of Hamilton for PED’s (just kidding…just kidding). Hamilton is getting some good swings on the ball lately.

  15. Homer pounding strike zone.. Rockies getting some good swings but hard hit outs.Iannetta ball is out at gabp. But he’s not messing around. A strike thrower. Love it.

  16. Spoke too soon. Arenado hits a 2 run HR to tie it up.

  17. I worry about Homer….lets go with David since he’s in danger of living up to his name about 40x this year? Its def the long ball with him? I worry even more that they won’t pull him out of the rotation even if he goes full Milton? Lets do it though….its almost time for some snowy baseball!!

  18. Bailey comes out for the 5th inning with good pitch efficiency. Bailey finally gives up a walk in the 5th, but finishes the inning with 68 pitches/46 strikes.

  19. Blandino in to play SS with Pennington in to play 2B. Bailey starting the 6th inning.

    • Bailey finishes the 6th inning with 81 pitches/54 strikes. He’s ready for opening day.

    • Really hoping Blandino sticks as the backup at SS (and elsewhere around the infield). He’s infinitely better than Cliff Pennington, at the plate anyway.

  20. C Trent reports today Pennington appears to have made it as back up SS….and blandino still in the mix as last infielder.

    • Gosh I hope C Trent is wrong, but I think Pennington had a backup IF position locked up as soon as he signed a minor league contract with the Reds. This is business as usual for the Reds organization, valuing veteriness that provides no baseball value for utility bench positions.

      The Reds do not need a back SS on the 25-man roster. Peraza will (better) play virtually every inning of every game. The Reds need a utility IF who can play SS if needed, but provides real baseball value to the team.

      If the Reds needed a backup SS they could stash at AAA in case Peraza can’t play, then they shouldn’t have DFA’d Vincej or at the very least picked him back up on waivers after Seatle turned around and DFA’d him 3 days later. Now if they try to send Pennington to AAA, he can decline and become a FA. I’m assuming the Reds plan on promoting Blake Trahan to AAA so the Bats actually have a player who can play SS, even though Trahan slashed a paltry .222/.311/.275 at AA last season. That’s what the Reds can probably expect from Pennington this season and Trahan is a better defensive SS than Pennington. Of course Trahan doesn’t have Pennington’s veteraniness.

      • Is it possible that Senzel would be the backup SS?

        • And here we go full circle…

          If Senzel is the backup SS, why is he playing 2B rather than SS after playing only 10 partial games this spring at SS in his entire professional career. After requesting a single position to play, why is Senzel playing 2B rather than SS. Why is Pennington even being considered as an otion on the 25-man roster if the only asset he brings is being the backup SS if Peraza is out for any extended period of time.

      • And there it is…

        Per John Fay via twitter

        #Reds have told Cliff Pennington has made the team.

        That’s the veteraniness I was hoping the Reds had moved past, but alas not.

        • You dislike Pennington much more than I do. Would Blandino have been a better option? Yes, if one is of the belief that his MLB role will be that of a utility player. No, if one is of the belief that he may be a MLB starter or a util guy that that plays almost every day (a la Ben Zobrist)

          Pennington is an actual SS. Although his abilities have certainly declined, his defense is still better than anyone else on the roster at SS. I know he made some errors this spring but small sample size applies here.

          The Reds could also still DFA him if it turns out he is playing poorly. He is signed for MLB money but not tons of MLB money.

  21. Duvall had a nice day defensively at 1B. He looked a lot more comfortable than I remember seeing him previously.

    • No reason Duvall can’t play first base 2x a month. Votto needs to play 150 games this year. He’s not Superman.

      • Speaking of Votto and playing time, is Votto just taking some time off before the beginning of the season or is he having a physical problem that’s keeping him out of the lineup? This is the time during ST when the regular starters are making a final tuneup for opening day.

        • I was wondering that same thing. Especially was wondering it when Vargas was picked up. Since the Twins claimed him when the Reds waived him, I got less concerned.

  22. Mark Sheldon via twitter

    #reds optioned Reed and Blandino to Louisville; Cruz, Dixon, Elizalde were reassigned to Minor Lg camp. Revere was released.

    The Reds bench is now set and it looks a lot like a WJ bench…VETERANINESS! and lack of offense.

    OF: Phillip Ervin
    IF: Cliff Pennington & Phil Gosselin
    C: Devin Mesoraco

    • Blandino was a surprise, I had only anticipated one of Pennington/Gosselin making the team.

      • If the Reds front office had really made a transition from the WJ mindset, Blandino was a sure thing and Dixon was a solid bet to make the 25-man roster. If the Reds front office was even trying to move away from the WJ mindset, Blandino and Pennington were sure things to make the 25-man roster. If the Reds front office was totally stuck in the WJ mindset, then Pennington and Gosselin were sure bets to make the 25-man roster.

        The message that the Reds continues broadcast to FA is that if you are a marginal, replacement level FA with major league experience and no real redeeming capabilities, sign a minor league contract with the Reds and make the major league roster. If you are a premier FA with the capability to make a positive difference, don’t sign with the Reds if you are interested in winning.

  23. I guess this means we can anticipate Scooter Gennett playing full time against both RHP and LHP. We can also anticipate Gosselin and Pennington in a large number of pinch hitting and double switch opportunities.

    I can only hope this is the last hoorah for Price with 2018 now becoming almost a lock cinch rebuilding/high draft pick season and Price doing his best ‘let’s see how we can best screw this up’ immitation. Then the cherry on top is giving up a year of control for Mahle when the Reds could actually be winning and competing.

    Really bummed today, but we’re one more day closer to opening day.

    • Old cossack don’t fret the Reds yet.
      The rebuild was targeted for 2019.
      The Reds need another Bailey contract year exhausted and Mesoraco’ s contract to expire. They need Nick Senzel hitting in the 2 hole before the rebuild is complete . Steve mentioned last year Price’s option was picked up because the rebuild was not complete. Dick Williams said this off-season the Reds weren’t one player away.

      The injury again to disco is a major setback. He was supposed to be the Reds #2. There is major sorting to be done.
      The bullpen suddenly looks very shaky ..with an injured Lorenzen as well as soreness with David Hernandez .

      The schedule is brutal.

      I see the Reds 10 under by June 15 but by late July the final phases of the rebuild will be in place.

      Pennington and gosselin will be DFA’d.
      Senzel be starting and blandino the infield utility guy. Starters will be sorted and injuries clearer. Price will be ending his tenure as manager. Scooter will have 17 home runs and be traded for a top young reliever. Hamilton will net a solid player as well. Jesse Winker and Sal Romano will be having solid years. Mahle hopefully too. I agree on the service time….but I like watching pitch and need some reasons in early April to be excited to watch a game.

      Watch the young guys in the first half develop on a losing team. ..then watch for winning in the second half.

      • No disputing your context, but the moves to fill the roster do nothing to promote future growth to competitveness. Can Blanidino play at the major league level? Can he start at the major league level? Nobody knows and the opportunity to possibly find out is lost. Can Dixon hit at the major league level and contribute as a bat off the bench? Nobody knows and the opportunity to possibly find out is lost.

        Can Pennington or Gosselin contribute anything to the Reds, now or in the future? No! Everyone knows it but the Reds front office doesn’t care.

        I’m good with a final rebuilding year, but a final rebuiling year has Mahle in AAA waiting for his opportunity in May or June. Garrett is in the starting rotation along with Romano and Castillo, giving the young studs the chance to definitively prove themselves. They have earned that chance, but no, Garrett is in the bullpen because he throws LH and Price needs a LH pitcher in his bullpen. Blandino is platooning with Gennett. Mesoraco is platooning with Barnhart. Barnhart and Mesoraco are first option pinch hitters in high leverage situations. None of this is happening now.

  24. Reed heading to AAA to work as a starter along with Stephenson is a good move. They both still have the potential as a top of the rotation starter if they can get their act together, but that prospect star is fading fast. Keeping Garrett on the major league roster to work out of the bullpen is bogus and detrimental to both the Reds and Garrett. Has nothing been learned by watching Price manage the bullpen last season with Stephenson and Reed?

    • Agree….unless they use him as a situational guy to pitch 3-4 innings out of the pen WHEN one of the 4 starters gets lit up by the Nats or Cubs. He can get valuable innings and be stretched out. He can also slide in to the #5 role in 2 weeks if Finnegan isn’t ready. Perhaps that is a tell Finnegan won’t be ready?

  25. I find it a little funny that you basically predict the reds to be 23-27 thru the first 50 games of the season (which puts them on pace for a 75-87 season) then predict they will finish 80-82.

    It’s not unreasonable (certainly doable). It’s just something that stood out to this little ol brain of mine.😊

  26. Phillies sign soon to be 24 yr old infielder Scott Kingery to $24 mil contract. He’ll play kind of a super utility role for them. Something tells me that Philly, White Sox, and Braves will figure out to rebuild while the Reds, Pads, perennial doormats spin their wheels. I hope I’m wrong!! I really do!!

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2018 Reds, Regularly Scheduled Rain Delay

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