Cincinnati Reds 2024 Season Preview

Between Noelvi Marte's suspension and Matt McLain's injury, the Reds depth is already being tested as they hope to still contend in 2024.

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 10: Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a triple in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark on March 10, 2023 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Without a doubt, there has not been this much buzz around a Reds team in the past decade. A flurry of rookie breakouts in 2023 combined with added depth have fans dreaming of October baseball. Well, until a wave of negative news has changed the trajectory.

TJ Friedl, Matt McLain, Nick Lodolo, Brandon Williamson and a few other pieces are all injured and will miss time to start the season. While the Reds added depth this winter, a team can only sustain so many injuries until AAAA types are filling the lineup.

With the roster additions more or less wrapped up, it’s time to focus on the roster. Dive in and see just how good the Reds can be in 2024.

Starting Pitchers

40-Man Options: Hunter Greene, Frankie Montas, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott, Nick Martinez, Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, Lyon Richardson, Carson Spiers

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Others: Julian Aguiar, Rhett Lowder, Chase Petty, Christian Roa

After struggling through injuries and the Luis Cessa experiment in 2023, the Reds rotation looks much stronger, and deeper, heading into 2024.

Hunter Greene, fresh off a new contract, is primed to be the “ace” of this staff. Greene improved from his rookie season in many ways but still has to take another step. He’s trending in the right direction and at only 24 years old, there’s still room to grow. Building off his increase in groundball rate and decrease in HR/FB rate from 2023 would go a long ways.

Former top-20 prospect Nick Lodolo is back and already injured. We’ll see on that. Injuries has plagued Lodolo for quite some time and he has already had a minor injury this spring.

If healthy, Lodolo has the ability to be a solid frontline stater. Strikeout stuff and good command, Lodolo and his health might be the X-Factor this season.

A similar story for free agent signing Frankie Montas, who’s not far removed from being a top option in Oakland’s rotation. He’s had his struggles this spring but the coaching staff believes in him. Not to sound negative, but this feels like a situation that either works out very well for the Reds or flops.

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If it does flop, at least the Reds have depth.

Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott, Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, and Nick Martinez round out the No. 4, 5, and depth of the rotation. Ashcraft struggled early in the season before finishing with a 2.81 ERA over his final 10 starts.

Another young pitcher who does not need to do anything more than produce groundballs and post a mid four’s ERA. I’d love to see him turn into a reliable innings eater and improving on the number of home runs he surrenders would be a step in the right direction.

Abbott, and Williamson, flashed in their rookie years and proved they can pitch at this level. After struggling down the stretch, Abbott will need to find his first-half self. Completely possible he just ran out of gas and I still like Abbott’s upside.

The depth in Double and Triple-A includes Williamson, Phillips, Richardson, and Spiers as first options. All pitched for the Reds last season and are in line to be the first options if injuries pop up. Phillips, in my opinion, comes with the most upside. He has big league stuff, but controlling it has been a struggle. Personally, I think Richardson should shift to a reliever role especially with more starters (Lower, Petty, Aguiar) on the way.

Lastly, let’s talk Nick Martinez. The veteran swingman signed with the Reds this offseason and is slotted into the unique, yet important role of being either a starter or bullpen arm. He’ll start in the rotation and with the early injuries the Reds will need him to step up in a big way.

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A true five-pitch mix, he throws his changeup to both righties and lefties and produced a 46.5% whiff rate on the pitch last season. Could be the addition we aren’t talking enough about.


40-Man Options: Alexis Diaz, Ian Gibaut, Nick Martinez, Emilio Pagan, Sam Moll (L), Brent Suter (L), Alex Young (L), Lucas Sims, Buck Farmer, Fernando Cruz, Tejay Antone, Casey Legumina, Justin Wilson (L)

Others: Justin Briuhl (L), Tyler Gilbert (L), Brooks Kriske, Zach Maxwell, Tony Santillan, Reiver Sanmartin (L), Alan Busenitz

The majority of the arms are back from last season. Diaz will hold down the closer’s role with Sims, Cruz, and Gibaut seeing time as high-leverage arms. The addition of Pagan gives manager David Bell another late-inning option with mixed results over his career but better numbers in the past two seasons with Minnesota.

Bringing in the local kid, Brent Suter, gives the bullpen another stable lefty with a proven track record who can go multiple innings if needed.

Cincinnati has struggled to find a dependable lefty but addressed that issue at last year’s deadline bringing in Sam Moll. He’s been solid and consistent and adding Suter and Wilson to that mix along with Young being back as an option helps the bullpen.

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Briuhl and Gilbert have big league experience and are both upgrades over Sanmartin.

Don’t forget about Fernando Cruz. He wasn’t perfect and comes with his own flaws, but his splitter is filthy. Batters hit just .094 with a .154 slugging percentage and a 56.7% whiff% off the pitch last season. This allows for a different look out of the bullpen that produces groundballs and strikeouts and should help limit damage.


40-Man Options: Tyler Stephenson (C), Luke Maile (C), Jeimer Candelario, Elly De LA Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Jonathan India, Noelvi Marte*, Matt McLain, Santiago Espinal

Others: P.J. Higgins (C), Austin Wynns (C), Mike Ford, Erik Gonzalez, Josh Harrison, Tony Kemp, Tyler Callihan

*Suspended 80 games

The infield logjam quickly turned into a situation where the front office went out and traded for another player. Top prospect Noveli Marte received a suspension which likely means Candelario is your everyday third baseman.

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Inked to a three-year deal, Candelario becomes the Reds first switch-hitting starter in sometime. He’s always been a solid hitter and putting him in Great American Ballpark for 82 games should help those doubles turn into home runs. At the other corner is Joey V…wait.

After 17 seasons Joey Votto is no longer in a Reds uniform. Perhaps the best batter to put on a Reds uniform. In steps Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CES) who posted a .270/.328/.477 slash with 13 home runs in his first 63 games as a big leaguer.

CES brings the kind of power the Reds have lacked and while his approach is a bit unconventional, the results speak for themselves.

The middle infield of Elly and McLain was going to be electric. The McLain shoulder injury does not sound good and India might be back in a starting role. I think the critisism went a bit too far with India and I still believe he can be a useful player.

For Elly, well, we all know about the tools. He’s only 22 years old and will always strikeout a lot, just how much is the question. The outcome of a 30/40 season is absolutely in the realm of possibilities. While there’s notable concerns, no one on this team has a higher ceiling.

I’ve said it before and I’m sticking to it. Tyler Stephenson will have a bounce back season. You can read a full, detailed explanation here, but to summarize: we have seen more good Stephenson than bad. I do not think he suddenly lost the ability to hit. A step forward defensively would be nice and he has looked better behind the plate this spring.

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The bench group will without a doubt include Espinal and Maile. Espinal was acquired on the 20th and will serve as depth across the infield. The 2022 All-Star had a terrible 2023, but is a great buy low option. He puts the ball in play and plays solid defense.

Before you saw it, just know his 0.1 fWAR from 2022 is higher than Jose Barrero’s career fWAR (-1.9). After those two, I would say Martini and Ford are in competition. Ford brings power, but limited defensively. He’s had a hot spring that’s hard to go unnoticed. Martini has hit well against righties in limited, mostly September at-bats.


40-Man Options: Spencer Steer, Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild, Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, Rece Hinds, Jacob Hurtubise, Nick Martini, Bubba Thompson

Others: Blake Dunn, Connor Capel

I love the potential this outfield has. However, Friedl is set to miss the start of the season due to a wrist injury, which will really test the depth in center. Stuart Fairchild and Will Benson will likely split time, with Benson having a much higher ceiling. He had a great rookie year, but is still not a proven player. I love the blend of power and speed and think another step forward is very possible.

In the corners you have a mixture of Benson, Fraley, Steer, and maybe even India. Spencer Steer is going to be one of the most important players on this team. While his defense was shaky, he can play all over giving David Bell plenty of options. He really flashed at times and in my opinion will be at the very least a high-floor bat, which always seems to be underappreciated.

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Then there was Jake Fraley. Who to this point in his career has been an above average bat with 20/20 potential. A really solid player who is also a platoon option. Personally, I don’t think Fraley gets the credit he deserves. Last season he posted a 115 wRC+ against righties and slugged .467. Playing a platoon with Fraley and a righty bat, perhaps India, could make for great corner production.

The more depth options consist of veteran Nick Martini and a slew of mostly unproven players. Former second-round pick Reece Hinds really flashed the power and looked like a better player last season but his alarmingly high K% will need to be sorted out. Blake Dunn has been talked about and could be the breakout of the group. Power, speed, and puts the ball in play. Of the depth options, I like his upside the most.

Final Thoughts

Injuries and a suspension have damped the sky high expectations for the team. I understand why fans are down, there have been some big blows in spring. However, this is the deepest team Cincinnati has had in some time. While I do not like relying on rookies, it’s nice to have a few ready to step in and the Reds have just that.

The outcome of this season will largely be determined by the “sophomores”. Steer, McLain, De La Cruz, Abbott, Williamson, CES, and eventually Marte. A large portion of at-bats and innings will fall on their shoulders and whether or not they have the sophomore slump or take a step forward will likely be the direction of the team.

On paper, Cincinnati has enough talent to win the division. Sadly, too much of that talent is on the IL to start the season. Cincinnati needs to find a way to avoid a slow start and hope the team gets health. There’s that word we are all too familiar with…hope.