The Cincinnati Reds have a lot of options for how their lineup could play out. The outfield, in particular, has Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama all vying for starters at-bats – though the designated hitter will help with that one a little bit. But even beyond those four, there are guys like Mark Payton and Phillip Ervin, not to mention Josh VanMeter or even Aristides Aquino. It’s never a bad things to have too much talent, but the outfield is rather crowded. The infield is a bit more settled, with Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Freddy Galvis, and Eugenio Suarez on the dirt to go with whoever is catching that day.

Even before there were 30-man rosters to begin the season, the Reds had a lot of different ways that they could utilize the players on the roster on a given night to best match up with the opposing starting pitcher. Cincinnati’s manager David Bell spoke a little bit about how things may look a little different depending on the opposing starter.

“It’ll be slightly different if we’re facing a left hander or a right hander,” said Bell of the lineup. “There are players on our team that are going to play every day and it’s not going to matter, right or left, and when we do switch it up it’s not at all about not believing in our guys to be able to play that particular night, it’s more about getting the other guys in the lineup to do the best to maximize our roster – which we feel great about, the depth, and we’re going to utilize everyone. Maybe even more so this year than last year, there are several guys that will play each day as long as everyone stays healthy – they’ll be in there every day.”

The players that will be in there every day, assuming health, are likely Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suarez, Freddy Galvis, and Nick Castellanos. You could, and I probably would, argue that Nick Senzel falls into that category, too, given how it has sounded like he’s the guy in center field according to David Bell. That’s six of the nine spots in the lineup that are accounted for, leaving just three others. One of those spots is going to be taken by either Tucker Barnhart or Curt Casali – it just depends which one is catching that day. So really, it’s likely going to be just two spots.

The players that could fill those spots all seem to be left-handed hitters. In the outfield, or at the designated hitter spot, we could be looking at Jesse Winker or Shogo Akiyama (or both of them in the roles). You could insert Josh VanMeter into left or as the designated hitter. Mark Payton can play any of the three outfield spots or designated hitter. But Phillip Ervin can crush left-handed pitching, so if there’s a tough lefty on the mound he’s a guy you probably want to try to get into the lineup somewhere that night. Perhaps Aristides Aquino makes his way onto the roster and he, like Ervin, could get into the lineup against left-handed pitching for sure, and maybe be the designated hitter on some nights against right-handers.

It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how the lineup looks from night to night. The starting lineup might not be the same one that is on the field by the 6th inning, either. While there will be a designated hitter this year, which will eliminate pinch hitting for pitchers – with the new 3-batter rule for relievers, teams may take advantage of match ups against relievers more often than in the past – something that David Bell mentioned on Monday as a possibility.

2020 is going to be weird no matter how it goes. With the designated hitter in the National League, there were cries that “the strategy is gone” – and we can argue that one all day and night if we wanted to (let’s not). But with the 3-batter rule, some strategy that was taken away is put back on the table in a way that we haven’t seen in quite a while. Teams can no longer bring in the specialist for just one hitter, unless that is to end the inning, and it works.

There will still be a little mental battle back-and-forth between the dugouts over whether or not it makes sense to bring in this or that reliever knowing that if the move doesn’t work they’ll be in there for several batters. Bringing in a tough righty reliever to face some lefties against the Reds may not work if they can bring Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama, Josh VanMeter, and Mark Payton off of the bench as a counter move. Likewise, bringing in a lefty to face those guys if they are starting may not work if David Bell can bring in Phillip Ervin or maybe Nick Senzel or Aristides Aquino off of the bench.

Embrace the weird. Get creative. Win baseball games.

18 Responses

  1. Bred

    How all managers respond to the 3 batter rule will determine the success or failure of their respective clubs. The decision to pinch hit and which reliever to bring in and when to make the move will determine wins and losses. The first 2 weeks when rosters are at 30 there will be more moves made earlier in the game than when the roster goes to 26. The 3 batter rule changes the in game strategy. Which manager adapts and makes the right move most often is going to critical to a team’s success. Decisions that don’t work will be scrutinized to the nth degree. Let’s hope we aren’t second guessing Bell too much this season.

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    It will be interesting to see how effective Akiyama is against left-handed pitching. Also, quite frankly, how he will fare overall. We hope that he will hit as he did in Japan, but that is anything but a sure thing.

    • GR

      Over the course of his career, Ervin has a .907 OPS vs LHP (OBP = .371). Ervin would seem to be the most logical of the platoon players to get the nod against nearly every lefty starter and the bulk of the pinch hit opportunities vs lefty relievers.

  3. MBS

    Suarez, Mouse, and Castellanos need to be in every day. I don’t agree Votto is needs to be an everyday guy. Mouse can slide over to 1B, to give Votto Rest. It’s on 60 games, but it’s a compact schedule, and Votto isn’t getting any younger. Everyone else I think you play matchups. It will be interesting to see how the Reds make their 30 man.

    • Redsfan4life

      I would start Votto against the first 2-3 LHP we face and if he looks overmatched I sit him out against them for rest of the season.

  4. CallowayPost

    I see the changes that MLB has made, and other than the DH this year and probably forever, the 3-batter rule I think is an unwarranted change. It’s trading off the excitement of matchups and your best player beating my best player, to the only one sided excitement of “if this player is on today, I’m smart, if he’s not, then we are going to have to stick with him.”…and it just reminds me of the Dusty / Price years whom had a tendency to put a pitchers confidence over the results.

    I think it’s gonna be one of those things that takes years of being in practice before we just forget it’s there.

    I have a lot of confidence in our team, and it certainly will be more pressure on pitchers in both dugouts to dig in their heels, which will bring more drama over frequent pitching changes. It does, however, impede on the manager and tells him how to run his ballclub, it’s deep sea fishing with a training pole. Yeah, you are technically fishing, but if you hook the big one, now you just gotta accept it and let that big fish break the line.

    • Doc

      Your best player versus my best player assumes that both of them are on every time they meet. Doesn’t happen.

      Three batter rule still means your best player(s) beats my best player(s), but the definition of best player changes.

      I prefer pitchers that have to be pitchers, rather than a LOOGY.

  5. Kevin Patrick

    I need to watch him play more, but I have to think Jankowski on the roster would be pretty useful in extra innings if you can park him at 2nd base. An outfield of Senzel, Akiyama, and Jankowski would be capable of covering a ton of outfield…and they would get singles. With a man already at second, that’s dangerous.

  6. Old-school

    Brewers micing up Christian Yellich for their scrimmage for fans.

    Reds have done a great job. Not sure about MLB.com only way to watch in pandemic and world emergency. But, Opening day is next Friday. Get the FSO crew down there. Tell the Reds story.

    Reds should broadcast every scrimmage/ preseason game starting ASAP. Mike up the players, interview the coaches, get Jim Day and Chris Welsh down their…get Derek Johnson and David Bell and Dick Williams on camera . Give the announcers a week to work out the kinks. Do some interviews at Prasco with social distancing.

    Pretty sure Trevor Bauer and Jesse Winker would Mike up and Barnhart would talk about the pitching staff and Geno would be Geno.

  7. Steve Scott

    I dont understand this teams love affair with Mark Payton. So many better outfield options.

    • Sean Keely

      THANK YOU! Payton is around 0-16 in the scrimmages by my count. He is striking out on dead red fastballs. The fact that he is in big league camp is pathetic and a poor move by our coaches especially when it meant aquino was sent to prasco. I will take aquino as well as vanmeter and ervin over payton any day of the week.

    • Sean Keely

      Payton just struck out again. 0-17 going on 0-18. Dude CANNOT hit major league pitching.

  8. Jim

    What about Scheb?
    From starter to forgotten man. Still say he’s a 4th OF at best, but I expect him to make the team and get some important AB’s

    • Sean Keely

      True. There are so many options. In reality Aquino needs to get traded for something now because he is unlikely to get the at bats he deserves this year. He deserves a shot elsewhere and the reds should do right by him and themselves by trading him and picking up something while they can.

  9. ClevelandRedsFan

    I really don’t understand why the Reds aren’t bringing Aquino to GABP.

    No one is talking about him in this regard. For me, he is the PERFECT extra-inning guy. Pinch hit him with 2 outs tie game bottom of the ninth with no one on. If he pops one, we all go him happy. If not, you have one of the fastest guys on the team at 2nd the next inning.

    He’s probably your best RF on the team, maybe only second to Shogo. He can do so much for the team, why not make him one of the 30?

  10. Sean Keely

    He should absolutely be on the thirty man. I think he still has a shot but if they dont put him there than they need to trade him. He will get a shot to start on about 50 percent of teams this year if he was traded. if im another team im looking at him hard because in a 60 game season you need people to go on a hot streak and aquino can clearly do that. The bottom line is they need to do right by him and themselves and trade him if they dont put him on the thirty man.

  11. ClevelandRedsFan

    Why trade him if he can go on a streak for our beloved Redlegs. If he gets hot for 10 games, he can win the NL Central.

    • Sean Keely

      Im not saying to trade him I am saying if they dont play him they should trade him. Either give him an opportunity to play that he deserves or trade him. Don’t stick him on the bench all year is what I am saying.