USA TODAY Sports Weekly

Keys to victory

- – Bobby Nightengal­e

surge: The rotation is centered around Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft, who are all 25 or younger. Each flashed potential during up-anddown rookie seasons and missed time with injuries. Now it’s about putting it together for a full season, which would make the team’s rebuild look a lot healthier. Greene, named the opening-day starter, had a 1.02 ERA in his last six starts. Lodolo had a 2.92 ERA following the All-Star break.

Bounce-backs: Jonathan India, the 2021 National


League Rookie of the Year, played through a nagging hamstring injury all season and catcher Tyler Stephenson was limited to 50 games after a concussion, broken thumb and broken collarbone. For a team that traded most of its veteran hitters last year, the offense revolves around these two hitters returning to form. India admittedly tried too hard to be a power hitter after the Reds lost Nick Castellano­s, Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker, and he plans to return to the way he hit in his rookie season. Stephenson will spend more time at designated hitter and first base.

Promising prospects:

The Reds restocked their farm system through trades, and it should show by the second half. Spencer Steer was the only prospect from last year’s trade deadline who made his MLB debut. Elly De La Cruz, a 6-foot-6 switchhitt­ing shortstop, is one of the most athletic players in the sport. Christian Encarnacio­n-Strand was the talk of Reds camp with power to all fields. Lefty Brandon Williamson could join the rotation.

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