Week 8 Trends: Reds Scapegoat Favorites Performing


Apr 27, 2013; Washington, D.C., USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake (44) pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

A look back at this week (plus one) in Reds’ Country should take about a paragraph to write. Would “they’re winning a lot of baseball games” suffice for an enlightening, succinct recap in print? It might. The team is making a habit of winning and they’re doing it because they aren’t allowing many runs. But a few notable performances has been behind the Reds recent stretch of victories. Two names that were once at the top of the list for Louisville Greyhound tickets are now at the top of many recent Reds recaps.

Regardless of how many games the Reds win, Zack Cozart hitting in the 2 spot is going to be given as much post-game analysis as the game itself. Even Doc Rogers, following yesterday’s win, was on WLW affirming that the role of the 2 spot is precisely the role of the leadoff hitter: get on base, by any means. On the season, Cozart is only hitting .232 with a sorry OBP of .258, meaning by rule, he wouldn’t fit this role; however, in the past seven days, Cozart is hitting .400 and has an OBP of .423. And what in turn has that meant for the former MVP? In the past seven day’s he’s hit .333 with three home runs and five RBI. Cozart’s success is mandatory for Joey to increase his numbers for reasons more obvious than which Skyline 3-way is hiding the baseball in between innings. While Cozart performs, Baker can answer the criticism of any ambitious saber, which brings me to my next point:

If I told you that in the last 30 days, Cozart is out-hitting Choo, would you believe me? Look at the two side-by-side for the past month.

Cozart: .266, 25 hits, 12 RBI, 14 Ks, 5 BB

Choo: .223, 21 hits, 1o RBI, 29 Ks, 21 BB

I suppose this constitutes as a slump for Choo, though it’s worth nothing that his slumps appear more effective than a Drew Stubbs hot streak.

But as impressive as Cozart’s been, no scapegoat favorite has been quite as good as Mike Leake. While being the center fold of all Louisville fodder just a month ago, Leake has quietly rebounded to become one of the most reliable guys in the rotation. 14.1 innings pitched last week, one earned run. 0.63 ERA.

But widen the scope. In the past month, Leake has arguably been this team’s best pitcher. His 1.87 ERA in the past 30 days marks the best on the team. He’s 3-1 in his last five starts. He allowed 14 earned runs the entire month of April. He allowed just seven in May. He’s the fifth man on this rotation. If the old cliche about chains being as strong as their weakest link is true, Cincinnati’s rotation appears titanium at the moment.