A reversing trend. The Reds have won their last seven games in which Mesoraco has started. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

What's in Store for the Reds in June?

The month of May proved to be a success. Entering May, the Reds were 4 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, as we sit here on June 1, the Reds stand 1.5 games ahead of the Redbirds and atop the National League Central. June should be a profitable month as well when you look at the schedule.

Here’s how it will all roll out…

@ HOU 22 29 .431
PIT 25 25 .500
DET 24 27 .471
CLE 27 23 .540
@ NYM 28 23 .549
@ CLE 27 23 .540
MIN 18 32 .360
MIL 23 28 .451
@ SFG (3/4) 27 24 .529
TOTAL 221 234 .486

Of the 27 games scheduled to be played, 15 will be at GABP. A chance to may some hay considering that the Reds played more games on the road in May (16) than at home (12). Despite that imbalance, the Reds were 17-11 in May with a road record of 9-7.

Another way to distance themselves from the rest of the division will be that the Reds will play five series against teams that are .500 or worse. Three of those series come at the beginning of the month with a three-game series at Houston (starting tonight), then back home to face the Pirates and Detroit Tigers for three games each.

Four series (or part of a series) will be against teams with own winning records (three in a row) with two of those series in the annual battle for the Ohio Cup against the Cleveland Indians. A return trip to Citi Field to play three against the New York Mets is wedged in between those series.

The trio of games at San Francisco are part of a four-game series and is the commencement of a West Coast swing where the Reds will also visit the Dodgers (3) and Padres (4). The All-Star break will follow the series in San Diego.

With the brisk tour of the schedule, what are we to actually make of this team? As 2012 began, we knew there were question marks. A pair have been answered, maybe even three, possibly a fourth, have been answered.

First, shortstop. Yes, as of late Zack Cozart has struggled with the bat, but he’s being put in a spot in the lineup where I don’t feel he’s gained a comfort level. As we saw in his extremely limited playing time last and at the beginning of this season, Cozart appears to be more comfortable hitting second rather than leadoff.

Heisey receives congratulations after hitting his first home run of 2012. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Second, left field. Chris Heisey has been gaining more playing time and producing when Dusty decides to start him. We haven’t seen the power from Heisey in 2012 that he displayed in the past, but there is an area where he has been on the proficient side: RISP. It’s not to the level of Joey Votto, mind you, but hitting .281 (9-for-32 in 36 PA) may get you some more time in the field.

Heisey started 19 of the Reds 28 games last month. His overall slash was .321/.346/.448.

Third, starting pitching. Is it starting to come together? It appears that it might be. After rocky beginnings from Mat Latos and Mike Leake, both have cured whatever ailed them in April. Latos followed a 1-2, 5.97 ERA month of April with a 3-0, 3.26 ERA month of May.

Leake garnered his first win of the season (surely he wasn’t going winless all year!) and improved on an 0-3, 6.55 ERA April with a May of 1-2 and 4.55 ERA. Not spectacular, but you could see Leake gaining confidence with every start. May didn’t begin all that well for him, but the end provided some better moments.

Fourth, catcher. No one would question Ryan Hanigan‘s abilities as a catcher. He’s earned all the accolades he receives. The questions surrounded rookie Devin Mesoraco. While the bat and the defense may not b e what we had hoped, we are seeing continued growth. While there were “issues” surrounding if the Reds could win with Mes behind the plate, those “issues” have been somewhat resolved. The Reds can win with him starting as they are now 9-11 in his starts. For April, the Reds only won once in his nine starts. May saw a complete reversal from that trend. In eleven starts, an 8-3 record including his last seven starts. Mesoraco may not hit for average like Hanigan, but his bat does provide a little more pop. Give and take, I suppose.

There is one question that has only received the slightest of a positive answer: third base. Despite the recent play (and heroics) of Todd Frazier, BRM’s Tyler Grote believes Frazier may be more suited in aiding weak bench and go after a certain third baseman that plays on Boston (who just happens to be from Cincinnati). I can agree with the assessment in that Frazier would enhance the bench, but I also look at the 3B production and it is all Frazier. (I’ll enhance this in tomorrow’s The Utility Player. Like trash collection, got to wait an extra day due to the holiday.) Granted, he’s only started 20 games at third and even with Scott Rolen starting more at the position (22).

We’ll see how this all shakes out. We know Rolen won’t be back soon this season plus Rolen is in the final year of his contract.

There is a slight misconception. I emphasize slight. Here’s why.

I’ve seen a load of stats in relation to how the Reds righty hitters struggle against righty pitchers. Producing a slash of .225/.279/.349 will hardly turn a head. The team’s overall slash against righty starters isn’t much better: .234/.298/.398. What is the Reds record when the opposing team starts a righty? 20-15. Against lefty starters, their record is 8-7.

Sure, it’s possible that this could catch up to the Good Guys in the long run. That’s where finding that elusive, productive lefty bat comes into play.

Some may consider the Reds to be fortunate to be on top of the NL Central. In looking at their Pythag W-L against their actual record, the Reds, sitting at 28-22, should be 27-23. Look at those comps for the Cardinals. Their record is 27-24, but the Pythag W-L suggests they should be 32-19. The Reds were lucky to win one game while the Cards were unlucky in losing five games.

I know what the standings say…and that’s what’s important. Time to increase the distance between the Reds and the rest of the division. June is a month where it can happen.

Tags: Baseball Chris Heisey Cincinnati Reds Devin Mesoraco Mat Latos Mike Leake MLB Reds Starting Pitching Todd Frazier Zack Cozart

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