Detroit Tigers: Get to Know the 2020 Cincinnati Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 20: Cincinnati Reds mascot Mr. Redlegs celebrates a win in a game against the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ball Park on June 20, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 5-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 20: Cincinnati Reds mascot Mr. Redlegs celebrates a win in a game against the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ball Park on June 20, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 5-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Come along as we “drive” down I-75 to the Queen City as we get to know the Cincinnati Reds, the Opening Day opponent for the Detroit Tigers.

The history of the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds is scattered with familiarity. Reds fans may remember 2019 Detroit Tigers home run leader Brandon Dixon was once in their system and we are all too familiar with Eugenio Suarez, Jose Iglesias, and Nick Castellanos. If you go back a bit further,  Dmitri Young was one of the last Randy Smith trades who came over from the Reds. (check out the recent podcast from Detroit Podcast, good stuff explaining his time in Detroit.)  Adding to the history of the Reds and Tigers,  Sparky Anderson inserted former Reds Doug Bair, Ray Knight, and Jack Billingham in Detroit’s roster at some point.

The Reds added some new faces in the off-season in addition to Castellanos to help out shore up their bullpen, outfield, and infield. Manager David Bell (son of former Detroit Tigers’ manager Buddy Bell) has new bats to add to the offense to get over the hump of a playoff drought that goes back to 2013.  The signings will help improve on an offense that struggled in 2019. They finished 24th in MLB in batting average with a .244 average and 26th in offensive fWAR with a -117.9 and a wRC+ of 87, which placed them 25th.

As Drew Koch from points out, the odds of Cincinnati making the post-season goes up as they do not take on the gauntlet that is the NL East nor travel to the west coast.

Let’s start who potentially the Opening Day Starting 9 will look like, their pitching staff, and five prospects we should know about. I placed them the sixth hardest team the Detroit Tigers will face.  The projections list is based on Fangraphs Depth Chart. 

Potential Starting 9:

C-Tucker Barnhart

1B-Joey Votto

2B-Mike Moustakas

SS-Freddy Galvis

3B-Eugenio Suarez

LF-Shogo Akiyama

CF-Nick Senzel

RF-Nick Castellanos

DH- Jesse Winkler

Starting Rotation:

RHP-Sonny Gray

RHP-Luis Castillo

RHP-Trevor Bauer

LHP-Wade Miley

RHP-Anthony DeSclafani


CL-Raisel Iglesias

RHP-Michael Lorenzen

LHP-Amir Garrett

RHP-Pedro Strop

RHP- Robert Stephenson

RHP-Nate Jones

RHP-Tyler Mahle

RHP-Lucas Sims

LHP-Cody Reed

LHP-Brooks Raley

The addition of Moustakas is an upgrade to second base to replace José Peraza. Outfielder Shogo Akiyama. who came over from Japan, will serve as the Reds’ leadoff man. He has a career OBP of .379 and was brought to be a table-setter for the Reds’ power bats. He also has shown off an arm in camp as you can read more here in the Baseball Prospectus report, he is above average defender.

Their starting rotation I believe is one of the best in the NL Central with Gray, Bauer, and Castillo as the starting three the Tigers may face this weekend to start the season. Castillo improved his K per 9 in 2019 going from 8.75 to 10.67 and increasing his groundball percentage to 55.2% with an improvement to his change-up. Wade Miley, the veteran left-hander they signed from Houston and DeSclafani round out the rest of the rotation.

Bullpen wise, the addition of Pedro Strop was a solid addition and provides depth to a pen at one point, was one of the best in the majors last season before struggling in the second half of the season. The signing of Strop could add some pressure to closer Raisel Iglesias, who struggled in 2019 with numbers that went up across the board, including giving up 24 home runs. Amir Garret and Michael Lorenzen are a great lefty and righty combo. Former Chicago White Sox reliever Nate Jones, coming off forearm surgery, has made the team as a non-roster invite.

Five Prospects You Should Get To

According to MLB Pipeline,  here are the top five Reds’ prospects:

  1. Nick Lodolo LHP
  2. Hunter Greene RHP
  3. Tyler Stephenson C
  4. Jonathan India IF
  5. Jose Garcia IF

Doug Gray, who does a great job running the website, discussed how Hunter Greene, just 14 months after his rehab, is back throwing 102 MPH again with some new mechanics. He just joined Reds’ camp on Sunday but that is quite the arm to have in your system.

Finally, the intrasquad action ends as the Tigers take the Reds for two exhibition games starting tomorrow and Wednesday before Opening Day on Friday.