Given the Reds current state in the standings, my yearn to schedule watch becomes even greater. I’ve always liked to take a look at the remaining schedule and break it into sections to see where ground can be gained and lost. Starting with the schedule after the upcoming Pittsburgh road series I have done just that. After this series there will be 64 games remaining. Of these, I’ve chopped them into 5 sections. Coming up I’ll highlight each of these sections and the challenges that will face the Reds during each.
3 series (ATL, NYM, SFG)
Combined Opp Winning %: .554 (158-127)
July 22 – July 31
This forthcoming homestand will offer bouts versus the NL West-leading Giants and numbers 2 and 3 respectively in the NL East in Atlanta and New York. While it won’t be any relief to the facing of quality opponents it will be in the friendly confines of GABP where the Reds are over .500 (25-22). The middle series against the Mets is a 4 gamer and could be the series on which the Reds can capitalize since of the 3 teams not only are the Mets sporting the worst record at 47-47 but are definitely the shakiest as their .500 play has been fairly out of the ordinary from what was expected.
4 series (@HOU, @CHC, COL, SDG)
Combined Opponent Winning %: .406 (155-227)
August 1-August 14
This is a series in which the Reds could definitely make some moves. With the exception of the 4 game series against Colorado, the others are against 3 of the 5 worst records in baseball in the Astros, Cubs, and Padres. A good run in this section could render one of those handy 7 or 8 game winning streaks that are so vital in securing a division lead. Conversely, a bad showing here might derail a resurgence in the standings.
The Rough Patch
6 series (@WAS, @PIT, @FLA, WAS, PHI, STL)
Combined Opponent Winning %: .532 (251-221)
August 16-September 4
This is the meat grinder of the 2nd half. Brutal stretch splitting the pain between NL East and NL Central opponents. The first 3 series are on the road as the Reds will travel to Washington, Pittsburgh, and Florida each for 3 game series. Finishing up will prove to provide the worst stretch as the Reds face the Nationals again at home for 3 more followed by 4 games at GABP against the Phillies and to top it off 3 more games in St. Louis. If the Reds can manage a .500 record or better during this section I would honestly be ecstatic.
5 series (@CHC, @COL, CHC, MIL, HOU)
Combined Opponent Winning %: .432 (165-217)
September 5-September 21
The key to having a successful second half is going to be the 16 games that the Reds will play against the woeful Cubs and Astros. A good showing against the basement of the NL Central could give a big boost. This section will prove that quite true. Of those 16 games, 10 of them will come in a 16 day stretch in mid September. A series in Colorado and one at home welcoming the Brewers will be sprinkled in among the Chicago and Houston series.
2 series (@PIT, @MYM)
Combined Opponent Winning %: .513 (96-91)
September 23-September 28
This small section will mark the end of the season for the Reds and I am hoping that the division isn’t going to come down to the final two series. The Reds will be forced to finish up the last 6 games of the season on the road against two fairly staunch opponents in the Pirates and Mets.
That is the rest of your Reds schedule all portioned out neatly. While there are a couple of rough stretches against the best of the NL East and isolated bouts with the Brewers and Cards, there are plenty enough winnable games in there that the Reds have more than a decent chance of reclaiming the Central division title. It just might take the 91 wins the Reds tallied in 2010 to claim the Central again in 2011. To win 91 games the Reds must win 44 games out of the remaining 67. That’d mean playing .650 baseball the rest of the way. I don’t feel great about that as a Reds fan but I feel that the bad luck and uninspired play that highlighted the first half has to get behind this team at some point.