Experts like Reds’ chances in National League Central

Members of the Cincinnati Reds wear masks as they watch the game from the dugout during an exhibition baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Tuesday, July 21, 2020. The Reds won 9-7. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Cincinnati could end postseason drought in 60-game season

Eugenio Suarez wore a T-shirt reading, “Good Vibes Only,” to his Zoom interview with reporters on Monday.

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That’s as good a message as any for the Cincinnati Reds as the 2020 season opener nears. They will try to end a six-year run of losing seasons and earn their first postseason berth since 2013, while keeping their eyes on bigger accomplishments, such as winning a playoff series for the first time since 1995.

Some experts agree the Reds can achieve those goals. In an ESPN poll of 32 columnists, writers, researchers and editors this week, 14 picked the Reds to win the division. No other team earned more than seven votes. Three people picked the Reds to reach the playoffs by winning a wild card, while one expert picked them to win the National League championship.

“The NL Central appears to be the most wide-open division,” Dave Schoenfield wrote. “When in doubt, default to starting pitching, and the Reds should be the class of the division with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani. Add in new power sources Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos, and the Reds’ lineup should be improved as well.”

ExploreReds hit five home runs in exhibition game

According to BetOnline.ag, the Reds have 20-1 odds to win the World Series. That’s tied for the sixth-best odds in the big leagues and is an improvement over the 33-1 odds they had after last season. The same website predicts the Reds will finish 32-28 and gives them 12-5 odds of winning the division.

If the Reds do enjoy the season of their dreams, they will do so without fans in the stands. That at least will be the case when the season begins at 6:10 p.m. Friday against the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ball Park and could be the case all season, though Major League Baseball has left open the possibility of fans returning to games at some point.

Reds fans can watch every game on Fox Sports Ohio or listen on the radio. The Reds know they’ll be following the action from home.

“We do it for the fans,” Suarez said. “We’ve got to do it. We’ve got a really good team. I feel this year is going to be special for us and the fans. We’re going to play hard and do our best to bring the World Series to Cincinnati because they deserve it. They’ve been waiting for that championship for a long time, and I feel like this is the year. This is our chance.”

ExploreBell says Reds 'ready to go' for opener

For much of the spring and summer, there was a question of whether Major League Baseball would get to this point. The COVID-19 crisis and the back-and-forth negotiations between the owners and the players created frustration for both sides — and for the fans.

To this point, Reds manager David Bell has been impressed by the health-and-safety protocols that has kept his players healthy. In the latest COVID testing results released by Major League Baseball, there were six positive tests out of 10,548 in a seven-day period ending Thursday. Players are tested every other day. Staff members are tested twice per week.

Bell praised the players, his fellow coaches, clubhouse workers and the whole organization for making sacrifices to get this season going. The Reds hope to provide a lift for the city just by taking the field and a bigger lift by winning.

“Our goal is to win and to play in a certain way that can be inspirational and can be an example,” Bell said, “not only in the way we follow protocols and continue to work but also the entertainment part. Our goal, our purpose is to win a championship, but it’s also to be an inspiration in the way we go about it. This may be the best opportunity we ever have in our career. We’re really looking forward to that. We’re getting close to getting this started, and there were plenty of times we all had doubt that would happen. Major League Baseball has done a great job, and from what I’ve seen, the teams have as well.”

FRIDAY’S GAME

Tigers at Reds, 6:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

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