Reds vs. Braves: Pitching preview, prediction, and more

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Ozzie Albies #1 steals second base in the second inning of Game One of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Ozzie Albies #1 steals second base in the second inning of Game One of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Naquin #12 of the Cincinnati Reds scores ahead of the tag.
SAN DIEGO, CA – JUNE 19: Tyler Naquin #12 of the Cincinnati Reds scores ahead of the tag. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Tyler Naquin helped the Reds salvage the road trip.

It seemed as though the nine games on the road were marred by excruciating disappointment. Seeing the Cincinnati Reds plow through the Milwaukee Brewers only to be stifled time after time by the San Diego Padres made the two-game set in Minnesota all the more important. Thank goodness for Tyler Naquin.

Nick Krall’s shrewd signing of Naquin to a minor-league contract has paid huge dividends this season, but few things the left-handed slugger has done this season will match saving the Reds from a horrendous loss on Tuesday. Naquin’s go-ahead three-run bomb helped Cincinnati escape the Twin Cities with a series split.

But that’s not all the former Indians’ outfielder has done this season. Naquin is tied for seventh in the league with 46 RBIs this season. David Bell made the decision some time ago to move Naquin down in the batting order, and it’s not uncommon to see the 30-year-old hitting in the cleanup spot behind Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos.

With Nick Senzel still on the injured list and the reluctance of the Cincinnati Reds to play Shogo Akiyama, it looks as though Tyler Naquin will be the team’s primary centerfielder until the All-Star break. His fate may hang in the balance, as a stretch of losing may force the team to consider trading Naquin before the July 30th deadline.

But if this Cincinnati team has success in the coming weeks, a big reason for it could be Naquin. He’s hitting .273/.360/.455 in his last seven games and has five RBIs during that stretch as well. Naquin may not get all the accolades that goes the way of Winker and Castellanos, but he’s almost as valuable to this team as his fellow outfielders.

Predicting the Reds vs. Braves series

This is a tough one, because we don’t yet know who’s taking the ball for the Atlanta Braves, but we can assume the Cincinnati Reds will see the likes of Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson in the upcoming series.

Next. This Reds player should be DFA'd

Still, the Reds offense has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, and I expect that to continue. The big question mark for the Reds is their bullpen, and until the front office makes some additions, I have a hard time seeing Cincinnati being able to hold the lead. Look for the Redlegs to split the series with Atlanta before welcoming the Phillies to town on Monday.