Apr 8, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) dives and throws out St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati defeated St. Louis 13-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Examining the Crowd at the Top of the National League Central

The Reds just can’t seem to catch the St. Louis Cardinals. No matter the size of their own winning streak, the Cards win at a rate that still keeps them at bay.

After the debacle at GABP yesterday, when the Reds blew a 4-0 lead and lost in overtime to the Cubs 5-4, the Cards did their part and beat the Dodgers sending the Reds back another game. They now stand deadlocked with the Pittsburgh Pirates in second place 1 1/2 games out.

If you think that the Reds have been cursed with the voodoo doll syndrome, think again. Two of the Cards’ starters, Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia are already on the shelf. Since April 29 St. Louis has given five pitchers – Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, John Gast, Tyler Lyons and now Michael Blazek, their first MLB call-up. Yet, they keep winning.

While the Reds have had the misfortune of landing on three losing streaks, sizes 5, 3 and 2, the Redbirds have kept losing streaks at a manageable number. They only show two losing streaks so far, a 3 game and a 2 game. It is impossible to catch somebody who refuses to lose a series.

Look at this: In 16 series this season the Cards have only lost two. The Reds too have played 16 series so far, and have dropped six of them. That, my friend, is why the Reds cannot gain ground regardless of their own success.

In the two series they have played one another, both in St. Louis, the Cards won them and are currently 4-2 against their rivals. The next chance the Reds will have to knock heads with the Cardinals will be June 7 at GABP.

Since April 15 the Reds have a record of 26-12 which computes to a .684 percentage, which is better than any team has for the season. Since that date the Cards have a record of 25-12, or .676. That is saying that in the past 38 games the Reds have only gained 1/2 game while chasing the leaders.

To throw the Pirates in the same mix, they have only lost four of their series this season. Since April 15, they are 25-13, or .657. Wouldn’t you think it is fair to say that the three hottest teams in the National League are in the Central Division? They are, at least in terms of wins and winning percent.

Health issues seem to mean nothing to the front-running Cardinals. No matter who goes out, somebody steps up, in similar fashion to the way Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier did last year for Cincinnati.

In my humble opinion the Reds have the best starting rotation in MLB. Bronson Arroyo has the highest ERA of the five starters at 3.39. I will take that any day.

With what we have seen so far it is apparent that winning head-to-head matches are the only way for these three to remain at the head of the pack.

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds MLB Pittsburgh Pirates St Louis Cardinals

  • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

    I do agree that Cozart should not be batting high in the order. Robinson has played well, perhaps he should bat second for a while and see what happens. After all he is a switch hitter. I don’t care if the whole lineup would bat left-handed.

    You are still a Reds fan, yes? Just checking.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      Surely you aren’t saying I am an eternal optimist. I am on their ass half the time. Some people thought you were my alter ego. :-)

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      Just so I’m understanding you correctly, unless someone is constantly negative and critical of their team, that person cannot be a passionate fan?

  • ian

    cardinals fan here…just wanted to give kudos to the reds and looking forward to a great rest of the season (and maybe a matchup in the playoffs). Cincy has a great team and i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t surprised the cardinals have been able to stay ahead of them this whole time. i know our teams are rivals but im truly happy the reds and pirates are doing what they’re doing..it’s better for everyone when the division is strong. Good luck the rest of the season (except when you play the cardinals :D)

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      Welcome to our little corner of Ohio. Thanks for dropping by, Ian. Hope it’s the first of many visits.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      Thanks for responding Ian. I agree that it is cool having the top 3 NL squads in the Central

  • beeker

    If you want to say that the Reds are where they are only because they are playing weak teams, then you have to say the same thing about the Cardinals. Their schedule has not been much harder at all.

    • spiritofstlouis

      Nothing could be further from the truth. St.Louis is 14-9 against +.500 teams, the Reds 8-13.

      The Reds have played Miami and Chicago, the 2 worst teams in the NL, 16 times (13-3), the Redbirds 2 (1-1 against Chicago).

      The Cardinals have made two of their three West Coast trips, Cincinnati 0.

      Next time, do your homework.

      • beeker

        First, I didn’t say that the Reds had played winning teams better than the Cardinals. How you got that, I will never know.

        Second, I love how you conveniently leave out that the Cardinals have played 20 games against the Brewers, Mets, Padres and Dodgers… with half of those being against the hapless Brewers. Not exactly the class of the NL there, buddy. The Reds have played these same teams only 6 times. Nice attempt at spinning the facts negatively against the opponent. I see a career in politics in your future.

        My point (if you care to understand it) was that neither the Reds nor the Cardinals have had tough schedules so far. The Reds have played 31 of their 52 games (59.6%) against teams with losing records. And the Cardinals have played 28 of their 51 games (54.9%) against teams with losing records. And by the time they are done playing the Royals and Indians, those percentages will be almost tied at 57%. If it goes for one, it goes for both. Which is what I said.

        Next time, try reading before you speak. You won’t sound so stupid.