Strength of schedule is typically something that's discussed prior to March Madness in order to decide which 68 teams will make the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. But it exists in baseball too.
According to Tankathon.com, the Cincinnati Reds possess the seventh-easiest schedule over the last few weeks of the 2023 season. When you look at the all the other competitors vying for one of the three Wild Card spots in the National League, no team has an easier schedule than the Redlegs.
With only 1.5 games separating Cincinnati from the last Wild Card spot, an easier schedule in September could help them make a playoff push.
MLB Playoffs: Strength of schedule could bolster Reds chances down the stretch
If the MLB playoffs began today, the Cincinnati Reds would be on the outside looking in. Currently, the Reds are behind the San Francisco Giants and 1.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot which is held by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But, with 29 games left, only 12 are against teams with a winning record. The Reds have two more games against the Giants, a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs followed by a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners, and will welcome the Minnesota Twins to Great American Ball Park in mid-September.
But Cincinnati has 17 games against clubs with a losing record over the next month-plus. That includes a six-game roadtrip to play the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets. The Reds also get a combination of the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates over the next few weeks. There's also two games with the Cleveland Guardians mixed in over the last month of the 2023 season.
Of course, the naysayers will claim that the Cincinnati Reds season is over and it's time to pack it in. But the Giants have seven games remaining against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Arizona Diamondbacks have seven games left against the Cubs, as well as a combination of 10 games with the Giants, Dodgers, Houston Astros, and Baltimore Orioles.
As for those pesky Cubs, David Ross' bunch has the aforementioned seven games against the D-backs, five versus the Milwaukee Brewers, and three games against both the Giants and Atlanta Braves.
The clock is certainly ticking for the Cincinnati Reds to make one last push for the MLB playoffs, but injuries, tired arms, and a free-swinging bunch of young players is making that difficult. If the Reds can muster just one win against the Giants over the next two days, they'll finish the roadtrip at .500.
A lot can happen over the final month of the baseball season, and the Reds are by no means out of contention. A softer schedule down the stretch will only help.