Cincinnati Reds: Mike Moustakas is catching fire at the right time

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Mike Moustakas is heating up at the right time for the Reds.

The Cincinnati Reds are sitting above .500 (28-27), and Mike Moustakas is a big reason why. While the starting pitching has been unbelievable this season, the Reds hitting of late has given this ball club a boost. Moustakas has brought his lumber to the yard recently, and the results have Cincinnati on the verge of a playoff berth.

Moustakas’ three-run home run last night was not needed at the time, but turned out to be quite significant. With two runners on the bottom of the eighth inning and Cincinnati clinging to a two-run lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, Moustakas put a charge into a 2-1 fastball and sent it over the wall in right-center field. The three-run shot was the difference in the game.

While the batting average (.218) might not be there, it’s not as though Mike Moustakas has had a history of hitting lights out. For his career, Moose is hitting just .251. Even last year’s All-Star season with the Brewers saw Moustakas hit just .254. But it’s the power of Moustakas that strikes fear into opposing pitchers.

Over the past seven games, Moustakas is slashing .217/.357/.565 with two home runs and nine RBIs. The runs batted in may be the most significant number, as Cincinnati has struggled mightily this season bringing runners home.

We saw the same thing last night, as the Reds were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. In Cincinnati’s weekend loss the White Sox, they were 1-for-10. Cincinnati is getting runners on, they’re just not getting them in. That’s where Moustakas comes in.

While David Bell has tinkered with lineup consistently throughout the season, when available, Mike Moustakas has always been in the heart of the batting order. In 30 of his 38 starts, Moustakas has hit out of the No. 5 hole. That’s where he belongs, and where he can do the most damage.

With the likes of Joey Votto, Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos ahead of him, Moustakas and fellow slugger Eugenio Suárez should step to the plate and regularly have at least player on base. His .922 OPS in the past seven games is bested only by, you guessed it, Eugenio Suárez (1.019 OPS).

That duo came up clutch last night. With the Cincinnati Reds trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Suárez sent a beautiful moon shot into the left-center field seats, giving his team a 2-1 edge. Not to be outdone, Moustakas took Drew Rasmussen deep to right-center with two outs in the eighth.

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The Reds are currently occupying the No. 7 spot in the National League playoff picture, and if they keep on winning, Cincinnati could vault as high as No. 5. In order to do so, Mike Moustakas will have to keep coming up clutch.