1 staggering statistic that will offer plenty of hope for disillusioned Reds fans

It's been bad of late, but there's a silver lining.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are not a good team right now. Having been swept by the Baltimore Orioles at home and lost four of six on their most recent road trip, the Reds are 2-8 in their last eight games and are riding a five-game losing streak.

If you're looking for optimism, you're won't find much of it in the box score. The Reds couldn't scratch across a run against Baltimore's starting staff this past weekend, and Reds dropped to the bottom of the league in hitting with a .210 batting average. Strikeouts (332) have been a major problem, and other than Cincinnati's league-leading 57 stolen bases, the team has looked abysmal.

But amidst all the struggles in the batters' box and in the field, there's one interesting statistic that should offer hope to Reds Country. With Cincinnati already over one month into the 2024 season, the Reds have only played three games against NL Central Division opponents. The Reds won't even play another division rival until Memorial Day.

The balanced scheduled could favor the Reds down the stretch

Last season, Major League Baseball shifted to a balanced schedule. That means that the Reds will face all 29 teams this season as opposed to a National League-heavy slate of games in year's past. Prior to last season, teams typically played just 16 interleague games. That number is now 46. The schedule also features 13 games against division opponents rather than the typical 19.

So what does that mean? Out of a possible 52 games against NL Central opponents, the Reds have played just three. Cincinnati went 1-2 against the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this season and still have 49 games remaining against the Brew Crew, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds have plenty of time (128 games) and plenty of opportunities to get back into the NL Central hunt. Furthermore, it's not as if the Brewers or Cubs are running away with the division. Cincinnati is just 4.5 games back of Milwaukee and a game back in the NL Wild Card. Other NL contenders like the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Francisco Giants are also below .500 on the season.

TJ Friedl will be back soon and more Reds' reinforcements are on the way

The Reds most glaring problem this season has been the absence of Matt McLain, TJ Friedl, and Noelvi Marte. McLain will be out until after the All-Star break, Friedl could return this week, and Marte will probably be back with the team sometime next month.

In short, the Reds will have plenty of opportunities to play themselves back into contention this season. Though it may look bleak at the moment, the Reds were 14-20 at this point last season and managed to finish the year just outside of the postseason.

The Reds two biggest questions heading into the year were the production of the starting rotation and the development of Elly De La Cruz. Those two concerns seems minute compared to the offensive woes this team has endured thus far. Cincinnati needs a spark, and hopefully the impending return of Friedl will be just that.

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