The Cincinnati Reds are 23-27 (.460) through the first 50 games of the 2019 season, with a 8-13 (.381) record in one-run games. What have we learned so far?
Through the first 50 games of the 2019 season, the Cincinnati Reds are 23-27 (.460). Are we seeing more of the same, signs that point to a positive future, or is the jury still out? As famed football coach Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” So, at 4 games below .500 and in fifth place in the National League Central, where do the Reds stand?
The Reds pitching, for the most part, has been stellar. One could argue that if this staff was in place for the last 10 seasons, the Cincinnati Reds would have actually played meaningful baseball into October.
With a staff ERA of 3.53 the Reds find themselves ranked No. 2 in the National League and No. 4 in all of baseball. Amir Garrett has been largely unhittable, especially of late, and some folks are throwing his name out as the suggested replacement for Raisel Iglesias as the Reds’ closer.
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Aside from his last start, Luis Castillo has been a dominant this season. Sonny Gray has shown dazzling stuff, but doesn’t have the wins to show for it. Newcomer Tanner Roark has been an innings eater, and the bullpen combo of Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen, and Amir Garrett have kept the Reds in several games.
How many fans, and be honest, would’ve said going into the season that the pitching staff would be the unquestioned strength of the team? I assumed with the additions of Gray, Roark, and the still injured Alex Wood, the pitching would be improved, but not dominant – yes, they’ve been that at times this season.
As much as you can use the word dominant to describe the pitching staff at times, the word abysmal better describes the first 50 games at the plate for the Reds. With a team average of .220, the Reds rank second to last in the NL behind only the San Francisco Giants.
Matt Kemp couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. He was released. Joey Votto has hovered around the Mendoza line all season and doesn’t seem to be himself with already 49 strikeouts on the season. Votto is slashing .215/.325/.343 and despite 168 at-bats, Votto only has 8 RBIs. Yes, Votto’s more of a table-setter this year, but Scott Schebler had 7 RBIs in his abbreviated stint in to start the season.
There is little team speed across the board for the Cincinnati Reds, so this is a lineup that needs to string together hits. They’ve struggled to do that. The offense has relied primarily on powerful hitting of Eugenio Suárez, some timely home runs from Derek Dietrich and Jesse Winker, and the surprisingly hot bat of José Iglesias who leads the team with a .299 batting average.
With Scooter Gennett’s impending return, fans have to expect some “new life” in the lineup if Scooter is 100% healthy. I expected an efficient offense which won games for the Reds, particularly early, as all the new pitchers settled into their roles. That prediction proved to be incorrect, it’s been quite the opposite so far.
A major league season is a long one at 162 games, so no firm conclusions can be made from just 50 games, particularly the first 50 of the season. However, there are some obvious surprises and some obvious disappointments with the Cincinnati Reds start to the season.
I expected a team around .500, which they are, but with bats, not the pitching, leading the way. If the offense begins to catch up, even if the pitching regresses slightly, the Cincinnati Reds can still be in contention for a Wild Card spot come September. I suspect the Reds will fall just short of that, but finish the season a bit over .500, with optimism for seasons to come.