After weeks of workouts, preparation and spring games, the Reds are ready to begin playing games that count. Cincinnati is hoping to put its rebuilding era in the past and make progress in its goal to compete in the National League Central.It could be a tough task, but the club
After weeks of workouts, preparation and spring games, the Reds are ready to begin playing games that count. Cincinnati is hoping to put its rebuilding era in the past and make progress in its goal to compete in the National League Central.
It could be a tough task, but the club will certainly be interesting, featuring four promising young arms in the rotation, an improved bullpen and an experienced starting lineup.
Here's a rundown of how the Reds look heading into Friday's opener vs. reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and the Nationals.
Opening Day lineup
1. Jesse Winker, LF
- Eugenio Suarez 3B
- Joey Votto 1B
- Scooter Gennett 2B
- Scott Schebler RF
- Tucker Barnhart C
- Jose Peraza SS
- Homer Bailey P
- Billy Hamilton, CF
• The Reds will utilize a rotation of four outfielders: the three in the projected lineup and Jesse Winker. How it will work, exactly, isn't entirely known, but everyone will get to play regularly unless performance dictates otherwise. Schebler will be the only player of the group to play both a corner spot and center field.
• Winker tabbed as Reds' impact prospect
• The speedy Hamilton won't always hit atop the order, especially if he struggles to get on base. It's possible that manager Bryan Price will move Hamilton down, depending on the matchup, which would leave Peraza or Winker as the leading candidates to bat first.
• The fifth spot in the starting rotation will be a question mark beyond Opening Day. Brandon Finnegan (forearm spasms) has remained in Arizona to prepare for the role. If he's not ready by the time the fifth spot's turn comes up -- April 9 in Pittsburgh -- Amir Garrett, currently the Reds' long reliever, would be the likely guy to take that spot.
• RHP Anthony DeSclafani has a strained left oblique, the same injury that cost him nearly three months to begin the 2016 season. Although he's now pain-free, he isn't expected to be ready to return until May or June.
• RHP Michael Lorenzen (strained right teres major muscle) was competing for a rotation spot when he got hurt. The injury was diagnosed as a Grade 1 strain, which means he might not miss much time. When he returns, the right-hander likely will head back to his former bullpen role.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.