The Cincinnati Reds starting rotation has been a hot stove topic for the last two offseasons. Much of that chatter has revolved around the team fielding offers and calls for Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. Both of those guys are still Reds, though, as apparently no one has made an offer that’s been nearly good enough to get the Cincinnati front office to bite. Scott Mitchell of TSN reported this week that the Toronto Blue Jays were “very interested in Cincinnati Reds starter Tyler Mahle”.
It’s not surprising that teams would be interested in Mahle. The 27-year-old right-handed pitcher is 15-8 with a 3.72 ERA (129 ERA+) over the last two seasons for Cincinnati. He’s thrown 227.2 innings with 270 strikeouts in that span and posted a 1.22 WHIP. He’s good. And he’s not going to be a free agent until after the 2023 season, so he would also give any team he’s on multiple seasons.
PECOTA Standing Projections
Let’s start this off by saying that these projections are mostly worthless right now because with the owners having locked the players out and freezing all transactions, including both free agency and trades, not many teams are set to go with their rosters for the upcoming season.
Still, Baseball Prospectus has released their PECOTA Projected standings ($$) for the 2022 season. In one way it’s good for the Cincinnati Reds, who are projected to finish in second place in the National League Central Division. The not-so-good news is that they are projected to finish at .500 and 16 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers. All of that is likely to change, though, once the lockout is lifted by the owners and free agency opens back up and trades are allowed to happen.
Where these projections can be at least sort of useful is understanding that on paper this is about where teams stand. While all teams probably have their own internal projections for where they and the rest of the league looks to be, the publicly available projections (not to be confused with predictions) probably aren’t too far off from the ones teams are utilizing.
Cincinnati probably feels that the team assembled today is solid, but unspectacular. They have some talent on their roster, but if they want to truly compete then they are likely going to have to fill out several questionable spots on the roster. What the Reds could, and maybe are hoping for is that some things go right with some of the players who have a high upside but haven’t cashed in on it yet. Getting good production from Nick Senzel and Jose Barrero could go a very long way for the club. And if some of the top prospects such as Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft can step into big league roles and perform well, it could be a bit of a game changer. There’s a lot of “ifs” in there, though.