We have triumphantly returned this Friday morning to a realization: the Cincinnati Reds are still in this thing.
Sure, they’re record, which is only three games above .500 does not exactly inspire confidence into even the most optimistic of fans, but they sit only four games out in the suddenly injury plagued National League Central and only three out in the National League Wild Card which no one seems to want to win.
Whether or not Andrew McCutchen is healthy the rest of the season is going to be the key factor to figuring out whether or not the Bucs will contend into late September or early October. They also for some reason deploy Ernesto Frieri into late-game situations and continue to believe Ike Davis is an everyday Major League first baseman.
The St. Louis Cardinals are clearly dismissing any kind of clubhouse chemistry from last season being pertinent to returning to the Postseason in 2014. Shipping away clubhouse favorites Joe Kelly and Allen Craig for pariah John Lackey may not exactly raise morale. They are also banking on one veteran that may be past his playing days (A.J. Pierzynski) and one youngster whose time it may not be yet to shine (Oscar Taveras) for some crucial numbers down the stretch.
The clock is perpetually hovering around 11:58 p.m. for the Milwaukee Brewers, refusing to strike midnight on their Cinderella story. With relatively good health all year long, the Brewers are surprisingly right on track for where most believed they would be record-wise. Not to diminish what they have accomplished thus far, but they are the beneficiaries of the rest of the division not playing up to potential. That, and Wily Peralta is leading baseball in wins. You still buy that as a legitimate stat?
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Here is my one rational reason the Reds will hang around in this bad boy until the very end: starting pitching.
From Johnny Cueto on down to Mike Leake, this staff is unlike any other in the bigs. The Dodgers feature Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu at the front, which is all fine and dandy in a short series, but thankfully, the Reds are playing one gigantic 47-game series the rest of the way, in which they will be going 1-through-5 in the rotation. The Braves have the highest volume of quality starts in the National League, yet most Reds fans cannot name anyone but Aaron Harang on that staff.
Every single night the Reds take the field, they have a chance to shutout the opposition. That sounds like some weird cliché that Crash Davis would be a proponent of in Bull Durham, but they legitimately do.
But do not take this for granted. The fact that Alfredo Simon’s right arm is still attached to his body is a modern miracle. The contracts of Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos are all up at the conclusion of next year, with enough money on the books to pay for one of them. Maybe.
Lost amongst the hoopla and rage of not acquiring Ben Zobrist or Daniel Murphy at the Trade Deadline, was the underlying fact that both teams would have required top-level pitching talent, a.k.a. Robert Stephenson or Ben Lively, in exchange for either man. Now, there is no way that anyone could ever project with certainty what a club will look like two years down the line, but both of those men could be members of the 2016 rotation for the Reds, while both Zobrist and Murphy would be hitting the market and getting paid by large market clubs.
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While on the subject of young arms, Amir Garrett, who is a left-hander down with the Dayton Dragons, declared yesterday that the Reds are his one and only priority. Garrett is 6-6 with a 3.41 ERA and has tallied 101 strikeouts in 113.1 innings of work with the Dragons thus far in 2014.
For those unaware, Garrett was one of the best players on his college basketball team while at St. John’s University. Drafted in the 22nd round in 2011, Garrett coming aboard was a pleasant surprise, especially considering his initial NBA aspirations and double-figure scoring average in the now defunct Big East Conference.
“Wins” like this are often not seen on paper, but are crafted behind the scenes. What makes his case so special is that 6’5” left-handers with a blazing fastball do not come along too often. Garrett will undoubtedly be a young man to keep an eye on as he progresses through the Reds’ system.
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You can all thank Kristopher Negron for the Reds not signing Dan Uggla. But, beyond my fake desire for the club to sign Uggla, it has been a pleasant surprise for all involved for what Negron has been able to do. Playing three separate positions well, Negron has also shown that he can hit the ball hard to all parts of the field.
In the worst-case scenario, it seems the Reds have found themselves a utility backup player for years to come that can produce better than adequately off the bench.
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I have never quite understood the mythical schedule maker’s obsession with forcing teams that only play once another twice to play so close together in the span of time. The Miami Marlins come into Cincinnati, after battling out with them last weekend in Miami.
Nathan Eovaldi dominated the Reds the last time out (which we will have more on later during the Starter Report), which may mean he is due for the exact opposite this time through. Turning to Mike Leake, the Reds look to continue to keep their heads above water while Brandon Phillips continues to progress back to the active roster.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds