Opening Day cannot come any sooner for the Cincinnati Reds as the franchise looks to put the 2022 season behind it. The Reds lost 100 games for the first time in 40 years last season as they finished joint-last in the National League Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cincinnati has been stuck in purgatory for quite a while. Major League Baseball’s oldest franchise has made the playoffs just twice in the last decade — losing in the Wild Card both times — and tallying seven losing seasons in that span. 2022 was seen as a reset year as the Reds traded away ace Luis Castillo in hopes his departure would kickstart their rebuild.
There is plenty of optimism throughout Ohio as the 2023 season draws closer. Cincinnati has plenty of young talent to complement a plethora of seasoned veterans in the clubhouse. Former No. 2 overall pick Hunter Greene will look to establish himself as a legitimate ace this season after a tough rookie campaign where he posted a 4.44 ERA. He’s +5000 to win the National League Cy Young at FanDuel Sportsbook, which is tied with San Diego Padres duo Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell.
Out in the field, second baseman Jonathan India is finally looking comfortable at the Major League level. The 26-year-old slashed .308/.413/.462 during Spring Training. He’ll be a veteran that the rookies in the Reds’ system will look up to throughout the early parts of the season with future Hall of Famer Joey Votto set to miss the Opening Day roster for the first time in 14 years.
More specifically, those rookies are shortstop Elly De La Cruz and third baseman Spencer Steer. They will both need guidance early on as they’re both far from finished products right now. De La Cruz was optioned to AAA to start the year and he’ll be sidelined with a hamstring injury to open the season. Meanwhile, there’s been talk of Steer being a rotational piece because of his defensive struggles during Spring Training. Regardless, FanDuel Sportsbook has included both among the top candidates to win National League Rookie of the Year at +2500.
Despite the optimism in Cincinnati ahead of Opening Day, albeit with realistic expectations, oddsmakers aren’t so high on the Reds. Only the Washington Nationals, Oakland A’s and Colorado Rockies have lower projected win totals than David Bell’s team. Cincinnati’s win total is set at 65.5 wins at FanDuel Sportsbook.
In other words, the Reds are projected to finish last — two games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates — in a lackluster National League Central. The odds reflect this as they’re +6000 long shots to top the division. Furthermore, Cincinnati has the fourth-worst odds (+1800) to even make the playoffs. It’s not even worth mentioning the lines that Las Vegas has set for the Reds to win the National League or World Series.
Even though Cincinnati is expected to be one of the MLB’s worst teams according to oddsmakers, there is still a reason to be hopeful ahead of Opening Day. The Reds are favored (-132 money line) over the Pirates to open the 2023 season at Great American Ball Park on Thursday afternoon.