It’s traditionally foolish to invest too much stock into any one series in a season where you’ll play over fifty of them. But when it’s September 6th and you’re supposed to be a real contender, it’s not a bad time to start comparing chest hair.
Taking three of four from the Cardinals is a big deal. It dispels the notion that the Reds are inferior to the team they trail by just 1.5 games. It diminishes the idea of some mental hurdle the Reds trip over every time they play the Cardinals. Most importantly, it keeps them in reach of the division. But while it’s a huge a relief the Reds can beat the Cardinals, it’s not the measuring stick for success this October. The Cards, despite their previous ownership of the Reds, shouldn’t be the golden standard. Since we invest so much stock into silly things like records against winning teams, then how can a team that’s just 33-36 against teams above .500 be your benchmark?
It’s not, and not just because of their meaningless record against winning teams. If you check this team’s performance since the break, the sample size is large enough to assume these are the Cardinals you’ll get. An extremely tough but beatable team. That wasn’t always the case.
Last series wasn’t the test, just a solid prep course. The real test actually starts today when the Reds begin a three game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball’s flavor of the post-All Star Game. And why shouldn’t they be? They’re 30-25 against winning teams! But seriously, look at these numbers since the break:
The Reds can be spectacular at home. Their 44-25 record is actually the 4th best home record in baseball. The problem is, the Reds are just 35-37 on the road. It doesn’t matter where the Dodgers play:
I present to you the golden standard in baseball. Since the All Star Break, they have the fourth best offense in baseball (first in the NL) the second highest team batting average in baseball, the third best OBP and third most hits.
But even more worrisome in Cincinnati is the Dodgers’ pitching post ASB. Since then, the Dodgers have the best cumulative team ERA in baseball, boasting an incredible 2.42 ERA. That’s nearly a whole point higher than the Reds (3.38). They’ve tossed nine shutouts in that span, more than any other team. They also have the lowest opponent batting average in the game at .231.
If the expectation for the Reds, despite the loss of the ace and entire set-up crew, is still to win the World Series, then this is the weekend to see if they truly have what it takes. The Dodgers have taken over baseball. The absurd amount of talent on that payroll is more than what’s needed to win a World Series, or multiple at that. If the Reds are really a team that belongs in that conversation, that’ll have a shot to prove it, starting tonight.