It’s been said the Cubs are hitting the soft part of the schedule again, which helped them right after the All-Star break. Certainly closing out August with a seven against the Reds, and series against the Jays, Phillies, Pirates, and Braves would lead one to believe they can rack up the wins. The Reds are a good start, and the team and their fans must be wondering when things will start to turn around for them. And now it’s certainly looking like that not only with a Reds rebuild have to measure up to the Cubs, but will also have to keep pace with what the Brewers are concocting in the next couple years.
The road to that might be a little tricky.
There’s couple young pitchers in the rotation now, and the Cubs will see one in Luis Castillo. He jumped straight from double-A to the Reds this year on the strength of a 1.01 WHIP and a 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio there. He’s been scared out of the strike zone a little in the majors which isn’t unusual, but is still K-ing nearly a hitter per inning. He’ll be 25 next year and looks like he can at least fill out the back of the rotation.
Things haven’t gone as well for Sal Romano, who is a year younger, and is having trouble finding the plate at all. You’re not going anywhere when you’re walking nearly five hitters for every nine innings. Still, when you average over 95 MPH on your fastball you’re going to get every chance, but Romano remains basically a fastball-slider guy which means the pen looks to be his future unless he adds another offering. Still, if they can ever reattach Brandon Finnegan’s shoulder and combine Castillo with Tyler Mahle next year–who has torn up both AA and AAA this year–that’s a pretty good start. But Finnegan’s shoulder has been a mystery for a while.
In the field, the Reds have called up Jesse Winker, who is one of their top five prospects. The problem is it’s not really clear what Winker is going to do. Winker provides great plate discipline, walking over 10% of the time at every level, but absolutely no power. He has five homers in the last two seasons in the minors, though has managed 22 doubles in each. But can you play a guy who won’t homer in either corner spot in the Great American Ballpark? One wonders.
Nick Senzel has simply destroyed AA this year, and might look ready next year. He plays third though, and Eugenio Suarez hasn’t done anything to be removed this year, already accumulating 4.0 WAR. Suarez also just turned 26, so it’s not like he needs a walker to get out there. This is why you might see Zack Cosart moved along in the winter to open up a spot, or during the season in 2018. Had he not been injured this year, it might have already happened. Every other positional prospect for the Reds looks to be a couple years away.
Which means the Reds are probably looking at Joey Votto being 36 when they’re really ready to contend. Votto can probably hit until he’s in his 60s, and hasn’t shown he’s in any way inclined to go anywhere. Still, at that age you would hope they could find another linchpin to anchor the lineup, and that still doesn’t really put them on par with the Brewers yet.
Long way to go yet.