Baseball Prospectus has good news and bad for the Cincinnati Reds.
The site’s annual PECOTA projections have the Reds improving over last season but failing to get out of the basement in the National League Central.
The Reds will win 74 games in 2018, which would be six more than last year, but still finish three games behind the Pirates.
The projections have the Cubs winning the division with the Cardinals and Brewers also finishing above .500 after both teams were aggressive in adding talent in the offseason.
For what it’s worth, projecting the season for the Reds might be harder than some clubs considering the uncertainty regarding the pitching staff.
While manager Bryan Price has said he expects his rotation to include Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan with a fifth starter to be determined, DeSclafani and Finnegan are both coming off of years mostly lost to injury.
PECOTA expects DeSclafani to make 16 starts with Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano getting 23 apiece.
The projection also includes Jesse Winker getting 60 percent of the playing time in right field and 10 percent in left field with Scott Schebler getting 40 percent of the time in right and 20 percent in left.
How those things actually shake out remains to be seen.
The other projected division winners are the Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, Indians and Yankees.