The Reds face the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs beginning Wednesday. They have until then to finalize their postseason roster, though it will likely be released sooner. Like the regular season, the 2020 rules allow for a 28-man roster. The only rule they must follow is the 28 players on the roster must come from the pool of 40 players they submitted earlier this month. Here is the Reds 40-man pool.
The following hitters are locks for the postseason roster:
- Catchers – Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali
- Infield – Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Freddy Galvis, Eugenio Suarez, Kyle Farmer
- Outfield – Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Brian Goodwin
That’s 12 of the 28 roster spots.
- Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray are locks as the three starters.
- Raisel Iglesias, Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen and Archie Bradley are sure things for the bullpen
That’s 20 of the 28 roster spots.
While none of these players would be locks, barring anything unforeseen, it’s likely they will be on the roster.
- Wade Miley second lefty in the bullpen.
- Tejay Antone performed well as a starter and a reliever
- Jose Garcia appeared in 24 games, possible defensive replacement, though after hitting .194/.206/.194 it would come as a bit of a surprise if he gets any starts.
- Aristides Aquino a much-needed right handed bench bat who could draw the start in Game 1 against LHP Max Fried. Though Aquino didn’t hit all that well in his limited chances, David Bell could stick with an outfield of Castellanos, Senzel and Aquino against the left handed starter. Akiyama was only given 23 PA against LHP and Goodwin was only given 14 PA against LHP after being traded to the Reds.
That gets us to 24 of 28 spots, with 14 hitters and 10 pitchers.
The Final Spots
The Reds know they only need three starting pitchers. They could put nine arms in the bullpen and carry 16 position players. We need to add two position players and two pitches to our current list.
Last Two Hitters
For extra hitters, six players would be in consideration: Tyler Stephenson, Francisco Peña, Alex Blandino, Matt Davidson, Travis Jankowski, and Mark Payton. Of those six, Jankowski and Payton are left-handed batters.
There are probably two spots available for position players. They could go with Jankowski to give them some speed in a pinch runner and a potential defensive replacement off the bench. They could also go with Payton as an extra left-handed bench bat. We will give the edge to Jankowski, as he likely carries more value as the last bench player than Payton, who might not even get into a game.
They are also likely to carry someone who can DH in Game 1 against the left-handed Fried. That leaves Davidson or Stephenson, who have both gotten DH starts against LHP this year.
Given that Davidson was outrighted off the 40-man roster, it’s likely Stephenson has leapfrogged him on the depth chart. Additionally, by carrying Stephenson, it would allow the Reds to DH Casali if Bauer prefers Barnhart behind the plate tomorrow. Casali hits well enough against LHP that he should be in the lineup regardless, so he would likely DH against Fried in the case of Barnhart getting the start behind the plate. If Casali starts behind the plate, Stephenson could DH. We will go ahead and give the spot to Stephenson.
Last Two Pitchers
For the two remaining bullpen spots, let’s assume they will go to pitchers that finished the season on the active roster. That means Anthony DeSclafani, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, and Robert Stephenson.
Though Mahle will not be needed as a starter in the first round, he has pitched well enough to justify getting a spot in the bullpen.
Romano only pitched 1 1/3 innings in 2020, but has stuck on the roster. He pitched well in that very limited sample. DeSclafani and Stephenson, on the other hand, struggled much of the year. DeSclafani pitched to a 7.22 ERA and 6.10 FIP in 33 2/3 innings, mostly as a starter. Stephenson pitched to an ugly 9.90 ERA and 12.19 FIP in 10 innings, allowing eight home runs.
We’ll give the last bullpen spot to Romano, as he didn’t do anything to hurt his chances during the regular season. That makes 12 pitchers and 16 position players.