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Inbox: Who will be in Opening Day rotation?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers fans' questions
MLB.com @m_sheldon

Care to take another crack at the starting five since Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan will not be ready for Opening Day (or likely the entire month of April)?
-- Tracy B., Silver Grove, Ky.

My prediction is the rotation will be Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Amir Garrett. The fifth spot could change if Finnegan (left forearm spasm) can be ready when the turn comes up on April 9. He threw two innings in a Minor League game on Tuesday, and he is due to start vs. the Padres on Saturday. The Reds won't rush him, however, and that could open the door for Garrett -- who could also be available from the bullpen the first few days.

Care to take another crack at the starting five since Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan will not be ready for Opening Day (or likely the entire month of April)?
-- Tracy B., Silver Grove, Ky.

My prediction is the rotation will be Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Amir Garrett. The fifth spot could change if Finnegan (left forearm spasm) can be ready when the turn comes up on April 9. He threw two innings in a Minor League game on Tuesday, and he is due to start vs. the Padres on Saturday. The Reds won't rush him, however, and that could open the door for Garrett -- who could also be available from the bullpen the first few days.

:: Submit a question to the Reds Inbox ::

It feels like Garrett has been the sharpest and top pitcher in camp thus far, yet he still seems to be on the outside looking in for a rotation spot. Why does it seem the Reds are holding him back?
-- Andy Kuenning, via Facebook

Garrett was handicapped with an outside shot for a rotation spot coming in, and he zoomed his way into serious consideration with an excellent spring. But Romano and Mahle have also had tremendous springs, and they came in as more finished products.

Tweet from @poynorch: #redsinbox What is the plan for Senzel with Geno now locked in at 3B? Are they serious about keeping Peraza at SS?

The plan is to have Nick Senzel, the Reds' top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, go to Triple-A Louisville and play second base. It doesn't mean his permanent position will be second, however. The Reds basically want him able to play anywhere in the infield -- except first base -- so he can be ready when a position does open up for him. In the long term, second base could make the most sense since Scooter Gennett will be third-year arbitration-eligible and two years from free agency.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Since many Pipeline/Minor League experts believe that Senzel will be in Cincinnati before June, does it make more sense to bring up Alex Blandino as a backup infielder instead of removing someone from the 40-man roster to make room for someone like Phil Gosselin?
-- Jordan Zugelder, via Facebook

I think Blandino could do the job as a backup infielder, and already being on the 40-man roster boosts his chances. However, Gosselin is even more versatile because he can play every infield spot and some outfield. He's also an experienced pinch-hitter, an often thankless role that younger players can sometimes struggle to adjust to. There are also currently two spots open on the 40-man roster, so it may not be a big issue to add Gosselin.

What are Kevin Quackenbush's chances of making the bullpen?
-- Luke Dorsey, via Facebook

Quackenbush has enjoyed a very nice spring, and he deserves a good amount of consideration. A lot of it could come down to roster math, and Quackenbush is a non-roster invitee. Like I mentioned above, there are two open spots on the 40-man, so that could help him. So could the revelation that Michael Lorenzen is dealing with a strained right teres major muscle. If Lorenzen needs to open the season on the disabled list, another bullpen spot would be open.

Where do you see Phillip Ervin fitting in going forward?
-- T.J., Indianapolis

Ervin has had a decent camp, and he would be the fifth outfielder if he made the team. I don't see him getting a starting spot this season. The question the club must figure out is whether or not his development would be stunted playing sparingly from the bench in the big leagues. Ervin might benefit from playing regularly at Triple-A Louisville, and he would be a phone call away if his callup is needed.

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.

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