Could the Cincinnati Reds follow the 2019 Washington Nationals' blueprint and make a run at the playoffs?

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) celebrates with Kyle Farmer.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) celebrates with Kyle Farmer. / Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Cincinnati Reds actually turn things around and make a run at the postseason? What would've seemed like an asinine question a few weeks ago isn't as far-fetched as one would think.

Hear me out. The Reds opened their season against one of the toughest schedules in all of baseball. From the jump, Cincinnati played 11 of their first 13 games against playoff-caliber teams (Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and San Diego Padres). All of those games were on the road.

The Redlegs then returned home to battle their arch rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, and welcome the Padres to the Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati then went on the road to play the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field and closed their road trip against the Milwaukee Brewers.

That stretch saw the Cincinnati Reds sitting at a league-worst 3-22 with a -87 run differential. The Reds eight home games played at that time were the fewest in Major League Baseball with the team having played 17 of their first 25 games on the road and 19 of their opponents had a record of .500 or better.

The Reds are down, but not out.

But the Cincinnati Reds recovered nicely after a homestand against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cincinnati took 2-of-3 from the Buccos and won their first series of the 2022 season. Since that time, the Reds have won or split every series they've played with their trip to Toronto being the lone blemish on Cincy's schedule.

The Reds have scored four or more runs 16 times during that 23-game stretch and held their opponents to four runs or fewer 14 times.

The Reds are also doing all of this without, arguably, their best player. Jonathan India has been shelved with a hamstring injury for the last several weeks and is still not expected to return until mid-June at the earliest.

Cincinnati has also seen Luis Castillo miss a month-plus of action and six-time All-Star Joey Votto was on the COVID IL for about two weeks. The Reds have also seen Nick Senzel, Tyler Naquin, Mike Minor, Nick Lodolo, Jose Barrero, Mike Moustakas, Donovan Solano, and Lucas Sims all miss significant time this season due to injury or illness.

Turning things around won't be easy for the Reds.

It's going to take a lot for the Cincinnati Reds to get back into postseason contention, and in all honesty, it's quite improbable. But, if this team can emerge from the month of June with a record anywhere close to .500, there's an outside chance the Reds could be in the hunt during the dog days of summer.

In 2019, the Washington Nationals were 19-28 and nine games back of the National League East Division-leading Philadelphia Phillies through 47 games. Washington would go on a tear over the second-half of the season, emerge as a Wild Card winner, and take home the World Championship.

After 47 games, the Cincinnati Reds are 16-31 and trail the NL Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers by 13.5 games. There's also an additional playoff spot available this season. According to Baseball Reference, the Reds have a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs. Hey, it could happen.

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