Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview: Cincinnati Reds
By Max Rayman
With the NL Central up for grabs, the Cincinnati Reds saw an opportunity and decided to go all in. How will the Reds fare in 2020?
Cincinnati’s 2019 record: 75-87
Washington’s record vs. Cincinnati: 5-1
Cincinnati added/re-signed: Mike Moustakas, Shogo, Akiyama, Wade Miley, Travis Jankowski, Jose De Leon,
Cincinnati lost: Kevin Gausman, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp
The Cincinatti Red’s had a disappointing 2019 season even after promoting most of their top prospects and trading for Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Matt Kemp. The main problem for the Reds was offensive production. Last year the Reds offense ranked 22nd in OPS (.738), 24th in batting average (.244), 24th in RBI’s (679, 22nd in walks drawn (492), 14th in homers (227), and 15th in striking out (1436). Cincinnati decided to improve their offense by making a splash. Enter Mike Moustakas. He agreed to a four year deal worth 64 million. Moustakas is coming off of a solid year with the Milwaukee Brewers that saw him hit .254, with 35 homers, and 87 RBI’s, while posting an OPS of .845. While Moustakas won’t solve all of the Reds offensive problems, he will
The Reds followed this up by signing Japanese star Shogo Akiyama. Akiyama was one of the top players on the international market. In his nine years playing in Japan, Akiyama hit .301, with 116 homers, and 513 RBI’s. He walked 526 times, struck out only 802 times, and had an OPS of .829. Akiyama will help ignite the offense by getting on at a regular rate and is also a threat on the base paths. He has 112 stolen bases in 177 attempts.
The Reds starting rotation looks to be the teams strength and the front office added to it by signing veteran Wade Miley. Miley will join Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Anthony DeSclafani to form arguably the deepest rotation in the NL Central. Last season the Reds pitching staff was ninth in ERA (4.12), fifth in strikeouts (952), fifth in opponents batting average (.235), and ninth in walks allowed (300). The Reds pitching was 25th in Run Support average (RS) with a 4.33. With the latest offensive additions, the pitching staff should be able to carry the team in an NL Central that is ripe for the taking.
Nationals to Watch
Remember the famous Tanner for Tanner trade that occurred during the 2018 off-season? The Nats send workhorse Tanner Roark to the Reds for the young flame thrower Tanner Rainey. At the time, the reporters questioned the trade from the Nats perspective. Well a year later, the Nats have won that trade. After all, Roark was traded to Oakland at the deadline while Rainey ended up winning a World Series ring with Washington. Now Rainey looks to be a key reliever in the Nats revamped bullpen. Last season Rainey went 2-3, with a 3.91 ERA, and 74 strikeouts in 48.1 innings. While Rainey has overpowering stuff, he needs to work on his control. This can be seen by his K/9 (13.78) and BB/9 (1.95). When locked in, Rainey is almost untouchable.
Rainey struggled at first but over the course of the season proved himself and earned a bigger role. He struggled in the playoffs, but remember this was his first full season in the majors. The 27 year old will love an opportunity to come out of the bullpen against the team that drafted him. He will be tested by an improved lineup. Rainey has only faced the current Reds offense in a small sample size. In seven at bats, the Reds are hitting .143, with the only hit being a homer. They also waked twice against him. Rainey will be the middle reliever and will look to hold the Reds in check till the closer can take the mound.
2020 Series Prediction
May 1-3 in D.C.
June 26-28 @ Cincinnati
The Nats have a deeper lineup and the best pitching staff in the NL. While the Reds are much improved, the Nats are the reining champs and will be looking to defend their title. Washington has also won the last four season series against the Reds, last losing in 2015. Look for the Nats to continue the trend.
Prediction: Nats take the series 4-2