Welcome to The Stew’s annual team elimination posts. We’ve done similar posts in the past. Last year was done in a video game theme. This time around, we’re going with a “Game of Thrones” look.
Each eliminated team will join the “army of the dead.” But we won’t just talk about their demise. We’ll also highlight some positives, pick out a memorable moment, tell you their biggest need and let you know when the club might be good again. Enjoy.
Sorry, Cincinnati Reds, but you won’t sit on the Iron Throne this season.
The “Red Wedding” wasn’t a singular moment for this team. The 2017 Reds paid homage to that terrible event every single night they played.
Unlike the Starks, at least the Reds saw this coming. The team is deep into a rebuild, though plenty of work still needs to be done, at least on the pitching side. Offensively, Joey Votto is their Robb Stark — he’s undefeated in his battles at the plate, but still loses in the end.
The Reds will bounce back and achieve their happy ending eventually, but their fans are hoping it comes before George R.R. Martin finally finishes his books.
UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN (aka WHAT WENT RIGHT)
The offense was pretty fun with All-Stars Joey Votto and Zack Cozart (when healthy) leading the way, along with 30-homer hitter Adam Duvall. Everyone knows how exciting Billy Hamilton is on the bases and in the outfield. And we even saw an unexpected breakout from Scooter Gennett. The brightest spot though was rookie Luis Castillo, whom they acquired from Miami in the offseason Dan Straily trade. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed more than three runs only twice in 15 starts while striking out 98 batters over 89 1/3 innings. He should become a fixture in the Reds rotation. (Mark Townsend)
THE RED WEDDING (aka WHAT WENT WRONG)
The Reds got little to nothing out of their other starting pitchers and enter the stretch run with the worst ERA in baseball. The bullpen played a big part in that too, allowing runs in an MLB-record 23 straight games between April and May. Help should come eventually, but it won’t be soon enough to wash the taste of this season out of their mouths. (Townsend)
THE NORTH REMEMBERS (aka MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT)
The best moment of the Reds’ season was also its most improbable. Scooter Gennett, who had three homers at the time, hit four homers in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 7. In doing so, he became the 17th player in MLB history and the first since Josh Hamilton in 2012 to hit four home runs in a game. Crazy that it’s Gennett’s name on that list. He’s a utility man who had 35 career homers coming into this season. Not exactly the guy you’d predict to hit four homers in a game. Of course, baseball has a way of surprising you. (Mike Oz)
WORDS ARE WIND (aka MOST IMPORTANT THING TO FIX)
Since early in the season, the Reds have led all of MLB in one stat: bullpen innings. And when a team leads in bullpen innings, they’re dead last in starting innings. This season, the Reds have gotten an average of five innings per start out of their rotation. Not even five and change, five innings flat. The Reds may be rebuilding, but that’s pretty putrid. The good news is that this year they graduated two pitching prospects to the majors, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo, and a full year of them will really help. But the Reds desperately need to find some dependable innings-eaters to fill out their 2018 rotation (and none of them should be named Homer Bailey). At the very least so they can avoid exploding arms in the bullpen. (Liz Roscher)
A DREAM OF SPRING (aka HOPE FOR THE FUTURE)
The Reds’ offense was strong this season, and should only get better in 2017 when top prospect Nick Senzel arrives. The 22-year-old was drafted in 2016, but has mashed his way through the minors, making a mockery of Double-A with a .340/.413/.560 slash line in 57 games. If he keeps that up, he’ll be in the majors at some point next season.
Pitching remains the issue, as the team ranks dead last in fWAR there. Luis Castillo definitely helps, but he can’t do it all. The team could really use a breakout from former prospects Brandon Finnegan, Robert Stephenson or Cody Reed, but things are looking bleak for all three. Tyler Mahle got a taste of the majors, and could help next season. The team’s other big-name prospect, Hunter Greene, is 18, so don’t intend on seeing him for a few years. (Chris Cwik)
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