The Cincinnati Reds, and the rest of the National League Central will get their regular season started tomorrow. The Reds will host the Detroit Tigers to begin their season – but before they do that, we here at Redleg Nation wanted to give some thoughts and predictions on the upcoming season in the division.

The National League Central Predictions

We asked the crew for their predictions on how the 60-game season would play out in the division and here’s what we got:

Ashley Doug Jeff John
Nick Tom
Reds Reds Reds Cardinals Reds Reds
Cardinals Cubs Cardinals Reds Cubs Cardinals
Cubs Cardinals Cubs Cubs Cardinals Cubs
Brewers Brewers Brewers Brewers Brewers Brewers
Pirates Pirates Pirates Pirates Pirates Pirates

For the most part, the staff believes that the Reds are going to win the division. The Cubs and Cardinals make up the second and third place votes, except for the one Cardinals vote at the top of the division. The Brewers got all of the votes for fourth place, and of course, the Pirates got all of the votes for dead last place.

Ashley Davis

Yes, I picked the Reds to win the NL Central in this crazy, sprint-to-the-finish season. We know the Reds have a pitching rotation that can carry the club and I believe this is the year the lineup finally catches up and brings everything together for a winning team. However, I think the NL Central is going to be the tightest division in baseball, with less than five games potentially separating the first place Reds from the fourth place Brewers. As for the Pirates, they’ll be in the basement again and Derek Dietrich won’t even be around to antagonize them.

Doug Gray

The division is strong 1-4. Most places are projecting the spots to be within 2-3 games between those spots – it’s a toss up. In a 60-game season, that feels about right. But when looking at the breakdown of the teams it just feels like the Reds are better. The rotation is the best in the division, by a wide margin. And their offense stacks up with anyone in the division, too. Weird things happen in a normal baseball season, and this is 2020 where weird seems to be happening every second of every day – but Cincinnati has more talent than the other teams in the division after overhauling their roster in the last year and a half. The rotation being rebuilt and the additions on offense of Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas will go a long way towards a far more consistent, powerful offense.

Jeff Carr

The Reds can capitalize on the 20 games they have with the Pirates (10), Tigers (6), and Royals (4) to the tune of 16 or more wins. They match up very well with their pitching and their lineup against all of those teams. With those wins in their back pocket they will then be able to play slightly more than .500 ball against the rest of their schedule.

Reds Cardinals Cubs Brewers Pirates
38-22 34-26 32-28 30-30 27-33

John Ring

The Cardinals and the Reds are the class of the Division. Cubs and Brewers trending down. If Nick Senzel plays 55 games, Shogo Akiyama can bat .280 and Cody Reed emerges as a force in the bullpen, the Reds can win the Central. Not counting a lot on Joey Votto or Freddy Galvis – hope I’m wrong on that one. And if Trevor Bauer is Trevor Bauer, pitch that guy every fourth day!

Nick Kirby

The NL Central seems as competitive as ever 1-4. It could have been a wild race to the end in a 162-game season, much less 60 games. It would not surprise me if all 4 teams are still in play to win the division going into the final series of the year. I went with the Reds just because of the starting pitching. The Reds should be able to avoid any dreaded long losing streaks this season, which is the kiss of death in 2020. The Cubs seem poised to have big offensive production this season, but let’s hope their starting pitching can’t keep up. The Cardinals don’t deserve to do anything with their bizarre inactivity this offseason. I’m not sure what to make of the Brewers, who have assembled a very strange team. They certainly have a lot of potential, but everything would have to go right for them to win the division. Everyone should beat up on the Pirates, but they have been known to get off to hot starts, so who really knows in this crazy sprint we are about to go on.

Tom Mitsoff

In the offseason, the Reds needed to “get the hitting”, and they absolutely did. The other three contending teams in the division lost key personnel, and some of them came to Cincinnati (Nick Castellanos and Pedro Strop from Cubs to Reds; Mike Moustakas from Brewers to Reds) – magnifying the losses because they moved to a direct competitor. If Trevor Bauer pitches like he did in his great year in Cleveland, and Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo repeat their 2019 performances, this starting pitching may be the best in the league, will all due respect to Washington.

Keys to success:

  1. Take advantage of six of first 10 games against Detroit, which lost 114 games a year ago. Can’t stress enough how key this will be, because this race will be super-tight among the top four teams.
  2. Raisel Iglesias returning to form as a lock-down closer. If not him, someone else. (Hunter Greene?)
  3. Avoiding major injuries (same for every other team).

Richard Fitch

(editors note: Richard didn’t predict that outcome of the division, but did have some thoughts on the season to share)

Baseball writer Joe Sheehan’s signature phrase is “variance swamps everything,” meaning that luck, the bounce of the ball, and wee sample sizes, in general, render chaos of anything we might know as normal and predictable. So, in that spirit, I’m gonna channel a little Allen Iverson here:

“Predictions? We talkin’ about predictions, man??? What are we talkin about? We’re talkin’ about PREDICTIONS. We ain’t talkin’ about the game. We talkin’ PREDICTIONS, man.”

So, I don’t know and I’m not even going to try. I mean, consider this: the lowly Detroit Tigers, who the grateful Reds drew as their opening day opponent and will play 6 times in their first 10 games, finished with a 47-114 record in 2019. Still, they did win 7 of their first 10 games. That kind of start in this “It’s a Small, Small World” of a season would be the equivalent to a 19-8 sprint out of the gate, which, if my NKU math skills are still relevant— is not nothing. Cogitate on that for a bit. Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in strength of schedule or whether pitchers are ahead of hitters because—variance will swamp everything about this crazy, abbreviated stub of a season.

I will make one prediction. The MLB season doesn’t make it to 60 games. Travel will expose the league to COVID-19. That’s not a positive outlook, but a nod to the real world we are currently living in. So, if you do nothing else, try and enjoy the games for as long as they last.

16 Responses

  1. Roger Garrett

    It is now a sprint and not a marathon.Money guys always play so it will interesting how Bell handles it if they struggle out of the gate.The Reds have talent so he doesn’t have to wait till guys heat up.If the season does go 60 games I feel the Reds win the division.Their starters are just better then any of the other teams.In addition 20 games against teams that are just bad should help a ton.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m hoping he is wrong. But he might being the realist amongst us.

  2. CallowayPost

    More importantly, in this sprint of a season, I think of all the NL Central teams, and many teams in MLB, don’t have the talent that we have that aren’t going to being playing everyday, whether off the bench or at Prasco.

    Sure, dig a little deeper down the depth chart, and things start to thin out, but we a geyser of outfield talent, a strong rotation, and some backup pitchers who would be filthy out of the bullpen that could piece together long man starts…I’m not worried losing one key piece for a 10 day IL level of time, as their replacement wouldn’t be some Hail Mary we’ve had to put out there and hope they’re average.

  3. Old-school

    I’m going to predict week 1.

    Opening day starting lineup.
    Shogo LF
    Votto 1b
    Suarez 3b
    Castellanos RF
    Moose 2b
    Senzel CF
    Galvis SS
    Casali C
    Ervin DH

    I’ll also predict the Cubs 4 game series will stress the Reds bullpen early and often, especially lefties and drive change.

    As for Mr. Fitch- wonderful writer and thought provoking. But, MLB with it’s science, best practices, isolation, testing, and motivated compliance of all parties will find a way. There will be interruption. But it won’t shut down.

    • Indy Red Man

      I haven’t seen Shogo vs LHP, but he’s a lefty. I have seen Votto vs lefties. Senzel needs to leadoff vs lefties and Bell needs to have a quick trigger with Joey at #2 this year. We can’t afford a month of .220 like he usually opens up the season. Versus RHP this team should hammer people. I’m going to say 35-25 and a game behind the Cards. Either the 4th or 5th seed

  4. Sliotar

    The Reds should be in every discussion of who is winning the division.

    2 things that were “underrated” last season at RLN, still seems to be in 2020:

    -Cubs position players
    They are still young, and several have “can carry a team” potential. Good core.
    Best lineup in division, IMO, until Senzel, Castellanos, Winker can prove otherwise.

    -Brewers, 4th across the board in the predictions
    “Craigtober” – difference-making manager
    Yelich … already in Reds Killer Hall of Fame

    I don’t know how they do it in Milwaukee, but they have.

    IF the division finishes Reds 1st/Cardinals 2nd or Cardinals 1st/Reds 2nd … there is going to be a lot of explaining going on this winter in Chicago and Milwaukee.

  5. JayTheRed

    If Covid-19 is still running wild in the US this winter of 20/21, I fully expect owners to have very tight budgets and there will not be as much player movement. Obviously free agents will get signed but they probably are going to have to sign for lower numbers then they deserve / want.

  6. Gregory M Feltner

    Why no opening day live queto thread

  7. Aaron B.

    The hate for Galvis is palpable and I am disgusted by it. A cheap easy pick up and many fans want to know why we don’t have Lindor playing SS on opening day when the team spent records amount of money to improve. These pessimists would have been asking for Concepcion and Geronimo to be replaced on the BRM. They won’t shut up till we win the World Series and I am not even sure that would do it. I mean one guy was vehemently arguing that Van Meter should play SS over Galvis. Please promote that guy to GM he is clearly smarter than the rest of us.

  8. Jim t

    Love our rotation and our offense this year. If our bull pen can get the job done this could be a special season.

  9. PhoenixPhil

    What are the chances the Reds, Cardinals, Brewers and Cubs all make it to the playoffs? Other than the chance to pick your opponent for 1st, does 2nd/3rd/4th place matter?

    • ClevelandRedsFan

      With a 60 game schedule, there will absolutely be play-in games. The NL central is most likely to end in ties in the standings.

      Honestly, that is going to be so much fun and make for really exciting games.

      Stock up on your sleep now Reds fans. The Halcyon days of beating up on the Tigers will look real easy come September.

      • centerfield

        no play in games, ties will be decided by head to head record, division record, runs scored if necessary

  10. Jeff Morris

    We are already seeing the impact of Castellanos and Moose as the Reds have a 3-0 lead. If this would have been last year….it would probably either be 0-0 or 1-0 Reds, and we would have been talking about how the Reds wasted their bases loaded 0 outs opportunity!