This week’s respondents are Matt Wilkes, Matt Habel, Jordan Barhorst, Jackson Thurnquist, and Jeff Gangloff.
Our Weekly Reds Obsession: Has the slow start to the season caused you to change your opinion of the 2018 Reds, and what will the team’s final record be?
Matt Wilkes: My opinion hasn’t changed much. The team is better than it is playing, and help is on the way. Eugenio Suarez’s recovery is ahead of schedule. Anthony DeSclafani should return by next month. Nick Senzel will be up at some point. Michael Lorenzen will provide some stability in the bullpen. The rotation should also continue to improve as the year goes on and Tyler Mahle, Luis Castillo, and Sal Romano gain experience. I won’t deny there are concerns offensively, but I expected some regression anyway. Zack Cozart’s absence is palpable. Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza are below-average hitters, and their struggles are amplified by batting at the top of the lineup. Scooter Gennett isn’t hitting 27 homers again and may not top 15 or 20 without the juiced baseball. Adam Duvall hasn’t hit since last June. However, Joey Votto will be fine, Jesse Winker has been fantastic, and Tucker Barnhart continues defying expectations. The return of Suarez, along with Senzel’s eventual arrival, will help even more. By June, I think the Reds are going to be playing much more exciting baseball.
Final record: 73-89
Matt Habel: I had managed to temper my expectations heading into the season, so there really has not been a huge change in how I feel about 2018, especially considering the injuries. I did not expect the record to be this bad and they will probably not avoid 90 losses like I had hoped for, but I think I knew deep down that this team was going to struggle. It has always been about developing the young players so now there is just no false hope of the postseason like in years past. It is definitely not a positive sign for the future but I guess it really isn’t the end of the world. Still a lot of untapped potential in a lot of players. Hopefully that starts to come to fruition by the end of the year and maybe the record will start to reflect that.
Jordan Barhorst: 2018 was the first year I got caught up in the wave of pre-season optimism. It’s the only time of the year all (or most) of the players are healthy, and that’s generally how the conversation sits for the entire offseason. I’ll raise my hand and admit I definitely got swept up in that mindset. It’s easy to do when you’re sitting around and dreaming of baseball for six months.
I predicted the Reds to be a .500 team, and I’m not ready to completely throw that out the window. With the hole the team is in now, there would need to be a pretty significant turnaround to break even in the W/L column, but there’s evidence that we’ll get just that.
If the timeline for Schebler, Suarez, Hernandez, Lorenzen, and DeSclafani are on the shorter end, this team can get back up to .500. This is provided the bats warm up a bit, which I believe they will. Final season record prediction is 78-84.
Jackson Thurnquist: I’d say…probably not? By the numbers, the Reds have been performing absolutely catastrophically on both sides of the ball, but there’s little reason to believe it’ll continue at this rate. The team is 3-20 with the bases loaded, and have the majors’ second worst ISO at .096. They’ve given Homer Bailey no real run support across four decent starts, and the young starters have looked promising despite their inflated ERA’s.
Lots of what has gone wrong have been things that will probably normalize, at least somewhat. I think so far this season we’ve seen a pretty bad team underperforming and looking like a very bad team. Before the season started, I had the Reds pegged for a 75-87 record, and they’ve certainly dug themselves into a hole to start the season (to reach that, they would have to go 72-70 from here), but I think a final win total around or above 70 wins is still feasible, if Votto goes back to hitting like he should, Senzel, and Suarez anchor a heavy hitting infield, and Castillo and Mahle start to capitalize on their promising peripherals.
Jeff Gangloff: The start of the season has absolutely caused me to change my opinion of the 2018 season. New information leads to new thoughts and new opinions. The Reds current record, injuries, overall talent, and the overall way they are playing leads me to believe that I bought into the false narrative that there would be significant progress made this year. I no longer look at 2018 as a year of “progress” but I look at it as a year of “hoping”. I’m hoping that some of these starting pitchers work out. I’m hoping that Jose Peraza learns how to hit and get on base. I’m hoping that Nick Senzel gets called up and is a beast. Hoping is rarely a good thing when it comes to sports. I hope the front office has a better idea of what the plan for 2018 is than me. Reds final record 62 – 100.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.