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Predicting the Opening Day roster for the Cincinnati Reds

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Staring into our crystal baseball for some answers.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

In exactly one week’s time, you’ll have a fresh brat in your hands, decked out in red within earshot of Great American Ball Park. The Cincinnati Reds embark on their annual seven month journey through the rapids of the Major League Baseball season next Thursday afternoon, and even though that should say ‘Monday afternoon’ and doesn’t, things are about to once again get real. No more Cactus League DH rules, no more split-squad games, and no more number 94’s taking over at every position by the 7th inning.

We’re a week away from baseball officially being back, which means the Reds will spend the next few days shedding a pile of players from their current Arizona dugouts to form their Opening Day roster. With the pitching rotation again in shambles, the battle for bullpen spots more open after Michael Lorenzen’s injury, and bench spots up for grabs, the Reds will have to juggle a good bit to end up on a final 25 that meshes with their overall 40-man roster. And for idiots with a keyboard like me, that means it’s time we tried to guess which players make the Opening Day roster using all the minuscule brain power we have.

Everyday Eight

C - Tucker Barnhart (1)

1B - Joey Votto (2)

2B - Scooter Gennett (3)

SS - Jose Peraza (4)

3B - Eugenio Suarez (5)

LF - Adam Duvall (6)

CF - Billy Hamilton (7)

RF - Scott Schebler (8)

Bench

C - Devin Mesoraco (9)

OF - Jesse Winker (10)

OF - Ben Revere (11)

IF - Cliff Pennington (12)

IF - Brandon Dixon (13)

Starting Pitchers

RHP - Homer Bailey (14)

RHP - Sal Romano (15)

RHP - Tyler Mahle (16)

RHP - Luis Castillo (17)

Bullpen

RHP - Raisel Iglesias (18)

RHP - Jared Hughes (19)

RHP - David Hernandez (20)

LHP - Wandy Peralta (21)

LHP - Amir Garrett (22)

RHP - Zack Weiss (23)

LHP - Cody Reed (24)

RHP - Kevin Shackelford (25)

Idiotic Reasoning Behind These Idiotic Predictions

There are reasons!

For one, the early pair of off-days more or less solidifies that the Reds won’t need a fifth starter until April 9th, and since that’s more than 10 days into the season, I’m anticipating Brandon Finnegan will join both Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen on the 10-day DL to begin the season. If all goes accordingly from now until then, Finnegan will come off the DL for that April 9th start against the Philadelphia Phillies; if all does not go well enough, Amir Garrett will likely get that start.

As for the position players on the bench, Cliff Pennington being the only other ‘natural’ shortstop in camp gives him the leg-up over his peers for one of the coveted bench roles - I’m not about to say carrying him is a decision I’d make personally, but it’s one I feel the Reds’ brass will make. Next to him will be Ben Revere for a similar reason, in that he’s a capable (enough) CF option, and his veteran-y experience of performing in a bench role will work in his favor. Brandon Dixon, at 26, finds himself a bench role, too, in part because the other options for the final spots on the bench - Alex Blandino and Phil Ervin - are players the Reds will want playing everyday, and therefore will be flanking Nick Senzel in what should be an entertaining Louisville Bats lineup for now.

You’ll notice there’s no Kevin Quackenbush in the bullpen despite him having fanned 12 batters and allowed nary a run in his 8.0 Cactus League innings. If anything, I think he’s the one non-roster player who will get squeezed off the 25-man roster thanks to 40-man roster underpinnings. Adding each of Pennington, Revere, and Dixon would put 41 players on the 40-man, meaning someone’s going to have to get cut/waived/woodchipped to facilitate those moves, and that’s where things get complicated. Jackson Stephens’ rough spring has him perhaps the likeliest current owner of a 40-man roster spot to lose out, but beyond him there aren’t many obvious candidates to boot.

Kevin Shackelford might well be the next name on that list, but he’s a name the Reds have known within their system for much longer than Quackenbush, and he at least gave them some cromulent enough innings out of the bullpen last year. I’m ruminating that those two end up being the final two arms fighting for that very last spot in the bullpen, so if you want to go back up and list ‘Kevin Shackenbush (25),’ have at it.

It’s also worth reiterating that while being on the Opening Day roster is well and cool and good, it’s no real indication for what a player’s status really is within the entire Cincinnati system. Two weeks into the season, both Finnegan and (hopefully) Lorenzen will be back in the fold, and that will require a pair of demotions. Another week or so after that, the Reds will be able to call up Senzel without having to worry about his service time, and he’ll be muscling his way into the roster at someone else’s expense. If Blandino and Ervin go down to AAA and rake, they’ll warrant call-ups at some point, and the same can be said on the pitching side with Robert Stephenson should he right the ship. And dear heavens, there’s even the chance that DeSclafani gets healthy and throws another pitch at some point in the near future for our beloved Redlegs, though please cross your fingers, toes, and nose hairs regarding that.

For day one, though, this is my best guess at what the Reds will be thinking. Call me now for your free reading.