2015 Cincinnati Reds Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 2/19/2015
Did the Reds make a huge mistake by not bringing Manager Dusty Baker back following the 2013 season? The early answer appears to be "yes". In 2012, Baker led Cincinnati to 97 wins and the NL Central title, although the team lost in five games to the Giants in the NLDS. The next year, Cincinnati won 90 games and lost in the NL Wild-Card matchup against Pittsburgh. A few days after that loss, the Reds booted Baker, who led the franchise to its best stretch of success since the Big Red Machine. However, Baker could never get his team past the first round of the playoffs (also lost in 2010 NLDS).
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The team replaced Baker with his pitching coach, Bryan Price, who had never managed at any level. He beat out former big-league skipper Jim Riggleman for the gig. I'd say Price is definitely on the hot seat this year as the Reds won just 76 games in 2014, the team's fewest since 2008. Injuries definitely were part of the reason, and it certainly doesn't appear on paper as if this team got any better in trading away two of its best starting pitchers in Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon.
Cincinnati opens the season April 6 vs. Pittsburgh .
Reds 2015 Projected Lineup
Cincinnati has perhaps the fastest player in baseball atop its lineup in outfielder Billy Hamilton. He stole 56 bases last year, which was second in the NL. Hamilton has to get on base more, though. His on-base percentage of .292 is not acceptable nor his 117 strikeouts. Third baseman Todd Frazier will hit second, and he had a breakout 2014 campaign. The All-Star led the team in average (.273), homers (29), RBIs (80), OBP (.336) and hits (163). The Reds rewarded him with a two-year, $12 million extension.
First baseman Joey Votto hits third, and he's a perennial MVP candidate after winning it in 2010. Last year was a total disaster as Votto played in only 62 games due to injuries and hit just six home runs with 23 RBIs. Catcher Devin Mesoraco will hit cleanup, and he also had a breakout 2014, batting .273 with 25 homers and 80 knocked in. Right fielder Jay Bruce had an injury-plagued season but did manage to play 137 games. He just didn't play them well, batting only .217 with 18 homers.
The rest of the lineup should be: second baseman Brandon Phillips, outfielder Marlon Byrd and shortstop Zack Cosart. Byrd was the team's big acquisition, coming over from Philly for a minor-league pitcher. He hit .264 with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs in 154 games with the Phillies. He also struck out a career-high 185 times.
This lineup should finish much better than 28th in runs as it did in 2014.
Reds 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
I have no problems with the Reds trading the All-Star Simon (to Detroit) as I think they sold high on a guy who had been a journeyman but was 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 32 starts. He was not the same guy after the All-Star Break. Latos, sent to the Marlins, was 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA in a season that was limited to 16 starts because of elbow and knee injuries. He can become a free agent this winter.
The rotation is led by one of the best pitchers in baseball in Johnny Cueto. He had one of the best seasons ever for a Reds pitcher, going 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 242 strikeouts in 243.2 innings. Those latter two numbers both led the NL, and he was second in wins, ERA and WHIP. Most years Cueto wins the Cy Young, but he finished a distant second to Clayton Kershaw. This could be Cueto's final season as a Red because he can hit free agency. Thus, if the Reds struggle, Cueto could be a huge trade piece in July.
No. 2 starter Homer Bailey (9-5, 3.71) had a torn flexor mass tendon near his forearm repaired in September but should be good to go for the start of the season. He's hugely overpaid. Mike Leake (11-13, 3.70) had been the No. 5 guy but now moves up to No. 3. The front-runners to replace Latos and Simon are lefty Tony Cingrani (2-8, 4.55) and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. Shoulder problems ended Cingrani's 2014 season in June, but he's good to go. DeSclafani (2-2, 6.27) came over in the Latos deal.
The closer is one of the best in the business in lefty Aroldis Chapman. The Cuban was 0-3 with a 2.00 ERA and 36 saves in 38 chances. He struck out 106 in 54 innings and led the majors with an average of 17.67 strikeouts per nine innings. He regularly hits 100 mph.
Reds Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , the Reds are +6600 to win the World Series, +2800 to win the pennant, co-+900 long shots with Milwaukee to win the NL Central and have an "over/under" wins total of 77.5, with the over a -125 favorite. At Sportsbook.ag, Bruce is +5000 to lead the majors in homers and Votto is +10000. Bruce has a total of 24.5 homers. Cueto is listed at 12.5 wins. The Reds were 84-78 against the spread last season and 71-85-6 O/U. On the moneyline, Cincinnati was -1050 units on the year.
Reds 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects the Reds to finish 76-86 and tied for last in the NL Central with Milwaukee. Lot of questions here. The back end of the rotation looks shaky. Were Frazier and Mesoraco one-year wonders? Is Votto breaking down already? Will Cueto be a Red by the July 31 deadline? Will Price last the season? I lean over the wins, barely, but don't see playoff contention. I do like over Cueto's wins.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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