CINCINNATI -- The Reds have named their Opening Day roster.
Under adjusted rules for the start of the 2020 season, clubs can carry 30 players on Opening Day before trimming to 28 players in two weeks and 26 players in one month.
“We don't have to make our moves until tomorrow with guys to select, so we decided to go with 28 today and we'll add two [Friday],” general manager Nick Krall said on Thursday. “We'll probably add two position players for those roster spots.”
And they did, adding infielders Matt Davidson and Christian Colón.
That would give the Reds 16 position players and 14 pitchers.
“We looked at it that you can't match up from a pitcher standpoint where you're going one batter, you've got to go at least three, but you can do it from a batter standpoint, so you can mix and match a little bit easier with your position player,” Krall said. “We might have carried a guy who is a little more of a niche player in the position-player group than we did in the pitcher category.”
Cincinnati on Thursday placed fifth starter Anthony DeSclafani on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Monday, with a mild strain of the right teres major in his arm. Because the move was backdated, it’s possible that he will miss just one start. Tyler Mahle is expected to take DeSclafani's place in the rotation and start on July 28 vs. the Cubs, but the club did not name a roster replacement.
“I felt it when I was warming up for the fifth inning in my last outing, but I didn’t really notice it too much the rest of the inning, so that was a good sign,” DeSclafani said on Thursday. “I think if we tried pushing it and going out there for Game 1, eventually it has a good chance to linger, and that’s not good for anybody. I think if we do the smart thing, give it rest and let it do its thing, then I’m 100 percent for the rest of the year. I think that’s the way to go about it. I want to be pitching in October. I’ll miss one start to be pitching in October.”
This is the third time in four years that DeSclafani has opened a season on the injured or disabled list. He missed all of 2017 with a sprained right elbow and spent substantial time out with oblique strains in both ’16 and ’18. Last season, he was healthy, with a 9-9 record and a 3.89 ERA in 31 starts -- including a 2.39 ERA over his final eight starts.
Here is how the Reds' roster looks, pending two additions on Friday.
This is a likely platoon situation. Barnhart ditched switch-hitting to bat exclusively left-handed, while Casali bats right-handed. Farmer enables manager David Bell to have flexibility if he needs to use one of the other catchers as pinch-hitters, and he can also play shortstop, first base, second base and third base.
First base (1): Joey Votto
Votto, who turns 37 on Sept. 10, is back for his 13th Opening Day in Cincinnati and 14th big league season overall. He’s trying to rebound from back-to-back subpar seasons, including a 2019 that disappointed him the most.
Second base (1): Mike Moustakas
Signed to a four-year, $64 million contract, Moustakas is moving from his home at third base to a less familiar spot in the middle of the infield. He dropped around 15 pounds during the quarantine to improve his range and quickness, but the Reds signed him for his bat. He hit 35 home runs for Milwaukee in 2019.
Shortstop (1): Freddy Galvis
Galvis is coming off a 2019 season in which he hit a career-high 23 home runs, and he is the only true shortstop on the active roster.
Third base (1): Eugenio Suárez
Surgery on his right shoulder performed in late January had Suárez iffy for the originally scheduled Opening Day on March 26, but he’s fully recovered and has looked good during Summer Camp. He is coming off a career year in ’19, when he slugged 49 home runs.
Utility infielders (1): Josh VanMeter, Matt Davidson, Christian Colón
VanMeter can play all infield spots except shortstop as well as left field and provides a left-handed bat off the bench. The Reds are almost assured to add two infielders, potentially Matt Davidson for the corners and utility man Christian Colón -- both non-roster players. Davidson and Colón were late roster additions on Friday.
Bell remains loaded with outfielders and not enough spots for them all to play every day. Some of that logjam will be reduced with the designated hitter rule. Bell expects the DH to change often but come mostly from this group. Akiyama will most likely be a leadoff man, and Castellanos -- who hit 27 homers and a Major League-leading 58 doubles last season -- signed a four-year, $64 million contract and brings right-handed thump. Senzel has drawn raves about his fitness and ability during camp and has improved his defense. Winker (a lefty hitter) and Ervin (righty) can play all three spots and DH. The speedy Jankowski plays elite defense and can be a pinch-runner in the late innings or extras.
MLB.com ranked this rotation as third best in all of baseball, behind only Washington and Tampa Bay. Even without DeSclafani for a start or two, that should not change. Gray received the nod to be the Opening Day starter.
With rotations not fully stretched out after a three-week camp, the bullpen will take on added significance. The roles of middle and long relievers also move from often overlooked to essential. Mahle and Sims were being prepped for piggyback or tandem starts. Having three lefties offers Bell flexibility for matchups.
“Our pitchers came in ready,” Bell said. “They’ve worked hard the last three weeks. They really gave us the option to do this. If they weren’t as ready, we would have had to make a different decision. For every team, there’s still uncertainty. We’ve never been through anything like this. The way pitchers have handled it we couldn’t have asked for more. It was phenomenal.”