The Cincinnati Reds are a team with high hopes every year. However, it seems that those hopes usually start to deteriorate after the first month. While we aren’t quite at the end of the first month yet, Reds fans are already starting to give up that hope. Cincinnati is currently 11-14 and at the bottom in the NL Central. If you look at their standings, you’ll think it’s a typical Reds team of recent. You’re way off base if you think like that though and don’t worry, we’ll tell you why.
Yes, the Reds are in the cellar once again, but they’re still only four games back. Being four games back in April is nothing. On this date last year, the Reds were 9.5 games back with a record of 6-20. The other four teams in the division were over .500 just like this year and stayed that way throughout the season. This shows that the NL Central is one of the toughest, if not the toughest division in the MLB. With Cincinnati only four games behind the first place Cardinals, this team is staying right in the thick of things.
Better performance among the starting rotation has been the reason the Reds are hanging with the division this season. This time last year, every Reds fan was begging for a pitcher that could post under a 4.00 era. Well, you have four of them this year. Luis Castillo has been dominant on the mound and Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, and Tyler Mahle all looking solid. Anthony Desclafani comes in as the lowest performer, but we’ve seen his good stuff. Once he puts it together, this is a solid MLB rotation that can compete with anyone. However, let’s not forget Alex Wood. Wood was a vital acquisition in the offseason and he’s expected to be back by the middle of May.
The bullpen has improved as well. Five players have been extremely good with standouts being Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, and Robert Stephenson. Raisel Iglesias started off slow, but he’s converted on four of his past five save opportunities. He’s also struck out the side in the ninth four times this season. Add in David Hernandez and Wandy Peralta, and anyone can see that this Reds pitching unit is solid overall. Jared Hughes and Zach Duke haven’t done well but both are expendable. Especially when you look at the depth of the rest of the bullpen.
Offensively, Cincinnati has been brutal at times, but they are still efficient in producing runs. While the team batting average is drastically lower than last season, the Reds still only have 7 fewer runs this year than last season. The bats will warm up though. In fact, expect to see some of the hitters catch fire. Joey Votto is batting .231 and this isn’t the first time he’s started off not doing well. Yet, he still finishes the season as one of the best hitters in the league. This year won’t be any different. Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker have displayed some power and both will bump their average up close to .300 throughout the season. Yasiel Puig also hits better in the second half of the season as well.
The main concerns on this team for hitters are Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler. Like a couple of pitchers, both are expendable when it comes to starting every day in due time. Top prospect Nick Senzel should be up soon barring another injury and Scooter Gennett could be back at the end of May. Senzel can replace either Schebler or Peraza, while Gennett will flood the infield with another strong bat. Getting both Senzel and Gennett healthy will help out this team tremendously on offense. While some think that this team is tanking offensively, the sky is the limit actually.
In my opinion, this Cincinnati Reds team wasn’t ready to make a playoff run in 2019. But they will improve and get close. But they’re still in the race and they could make a push given their good performance at certain positions. When Wood and Gennett gets back, that floods both the rotation and infield. Someone from the rotation could move to the bullpen or they could get traded for a missing piece. The same goes for when Scooter gets back. Believe it or not, the Reds are still in the driver’s seat on negotiations, which should make this team exciting to watch this summer.
What Reds fans need to realize is that they have to continue to be patient. This team has made a complete turnaround from last year and will continue to do so. They’ll be fun to watch the entire season. It’s been a while since Cincinnati had some good teams and I get that patience is running extremely thin to some. But if you take a minute to look at the improvements, you will be pleased.