The Path to Another NL Central Title for the Reds


Sep 22, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds players celebrate at the end of the game after clinching the National League central title at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Dodgers 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a quick look at how the Reds schedule within the NL Central looks for the remainder of the season.

Cincinnati will play…

the Cubs 6 more games: 3 at home, 3 at Wrigley. Reds are 10-3 v. the Cubbies.
the Brewers 13 more games: 3 at home, 10 at Miller Park. Reds own a 5-1 record over the Brew Crew.
the Pirates 9 more games: 6 at GABP and 3 at PNC. Reds are 4-6 when facing them.
the Cardinals 10 more games: 7 at GABP and 3 at Busch III. Reds are 3-6 versus the Cards.

In total, the Reds have 38 games left against their division rivals. That is the least among the five teams. Of those 38, 19 are at home and 19 are on the road.

The two teams ahead of the Reds have…

The Cardinals have the most games within the division left on their schedule with 46. Here’s where things might look a little dicey for them. 28 on the road, 18 at home.

For the Pirates, they have 42 divisional games left. The home/away split is just that, split. 21 at PNC and 21 away from Pittsburgh.

The average record of the Reds remaining opponents, even taking the Cubs and Brewers into consideration, is 38-37. The only team within the NLC that has an opponent’s remaining average record that is below .500? St. Louis, but it is only one game below at 37-38. Pirates’ opponents average a 37-37 record. No real “winner” here.

Here’s a partial formula to regaining the division’s top spot. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.

1. Beat the Cards and Bucs.
It’s not so much because the Reds sport a losing record against both as much as they’re the two teams ahead of them in the standings. Sounds simplistic, I know, but the same thought was prevalent at one point last season. Remember when Cincy had a losing record against Pittsburgh last year? At one time last season, they did have a losing record against Pittsburgh. They finished 2012 with a record of 11-7 against the Pirates.

If the Reds win 7 of the last 9 against the Buccos, they will finish 2013 with a record of 11-8.

They weren’t as fortunate against the Cards in 2012, finishing 7-8. That’s a trend that must be reversed. Having 7 of their 10 remaining games at GABP should bode well. Seems like the Reds have a tendency to sweep a GABP series when hosting the Cardinals.

The Reds can have a 10-9 record against the Redbirds if they take 7 of the last 10.

Both can be done, but it will take some work.

2. The bullpen ails must be cured.
I know the pen has been getting a fair share of punches as of late, but the 2013 pen isn’t the 2012 pen. It needs to try to get that level. No Sean Marshall doesn’t help matters. An unhealthy Jonathan Broxton isn’t particularly good either. Neither were pitching like their 2012 prior to their injuries which put them on the DL.

Think about this. Without Marshall or Brox, Dusty has been using Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon as a bridge to Aroldis Chapman. While they have attempted to fill in for Brox and Marshall, it’s honestly not the same. And I have been open about how much I love LeCure.

Not sure if it has approached man-crush stage yet.

3. Beat teams you should beat.
This goes without saying and the Good Guys have pretty much taken care of this side of the ledger in 2013. The issue becomes not being attentive enough to teams like the Cubs and Brewers and allowing them to spoil your season because you’re so focused on the likes of the Cards and Pirates.

This also goes when facing those sub-.500 teams outside the division. Took care of the Marlins this season. It’s the Marlins, sure, but it’s also wins. There’s this ahead for the Reds, too. Three games in Houston. Three-game home series facing the Mets, Mariners, Dodgers and Padres. That should be at least a 10-5 record.

4. Maintain or even improve the current status quo.
The Reds have the most number of home wins (26) in the NL and own the second best home winning percentage at .650. They do have a winning road record (19-18) even though it is the slightest bit above .500. If they can continue on the current pace in regards to home winning percentage and have a road record only one game over .500, they will end the season with a record of 94-68. That would mean sporting a record of 49-36 for the rest of the regular season.

That’s 13 games over .500, the same number of games they currently sit over .500 with their 45-32 record.

Is that out of reach for this team? Is it too big an assumption that the Pirates will fade as they have the last two seasons and the Cardinals starting pitching will plummet back to earth?

Let us know your thoughts.