The Reds Stepped Up When They Needed To

After starting the year 6-1 behind a very promising combination of hitting and pitching, the wheels looked to be falling off of the Reds’ young season. Over the next 43 games, the team compiled a record of 16-27 bringing them to 22-28 and in and out of rock bottom in the NL Central.

The bats were inconsistent, the starting pitching was just meh, and the bullpen was the worst in the entire league. With an ERA sitting at 5.70, it still is the worst in the entire league. But over the course of the last 14 games – where the Reds have won 11 of said games – everyone has stepped up. The offense, particularly Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos and the emergence of Jonathan India has pounced on teams early and often. Oh, and the bullpen has been just good enough to hold on in some close games.

The injury bug has hit the Reds hard and often this year, moreso in the last few weeks than all year. That’s what makes the 11 wins in 14 games so impressive to me. A bullpen full of guys nobody has heard of until this year lost its most consistent out-getter in Tejay Antone to the IL. Nick Senzel’s injury-riddled career has him sidelined once again. Joey Votto just returned to the lineup. Yet here it is – June 15th – and the Reds sit two games over .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2014. 

The Reds should be playing like this. I’m not saying we should give them a pat on the back for a 33-31 record when they have two front-running MVP candidates hitting 2nd and 3rd in the lineup every night. With Jesse Winker hitting .342 to go along with 17 HRs and 41 RBIs batting right in front of Nick Castellanos who is batting .357 with 13 HRs and 37 RBIs, they should have a chance to win every single game. Did I mention Jonathan India? He’s been red hot since being put at the top of the lineup by David Bell. 

Even after everything I’ve mentioned, none of these wins come without the starting rotation playing the way they have. Tony Santillan pitched well in his MLB debut, though walks were an issue. Vladimir Gutierrez has come on strong and pitched sensational while Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo are all trending in the right direction.

The Cincinnati Reds have some work to do if they want to make a postseason run. Nonetheless, they have the talent for it. They have assets to help them land some bullpen help at the trade deadline. Hell, that bullpen help might already be within the organization. One thing I do know is this – no team wants to see a hot Reds squad in the postseason.

The Reds (who sit 4 games back from Milwaukee and Chicago) look to stay hot and win yet another series tonight in Milwaukee. First pitch is 8:10pm EST. Luis Castillo and Brett Anderson are the probable starters. 

Logan Vaughn

I write about Cincinnati sports in my free time.

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