Something's got to give tonight. The Cincinnati Reds, winners of 11 straight games, will play host to the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park on Friday night.
But the Braves are on something of a win streak themselves. Atlanta has ripped off eight consecutive victories and have the second-best record in all of baseball. Only the Tampa Bays have been better in 2023.
This three-game series at home against the Braves will test the Reds mettle and will be a barometer for David Bell's crew as they near the halfway point of the season.
The Reds mettle will truly be tested over the next 6 games.
The Cincinnati Reds, who have 1.5 game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central will send Luke Weaver to the mound on Friday night. He'll be followed by the returning Graham Ashcraft on Saturday, and Ben Lively on Sunday afternoon.
The Reds will avoid the difficult 1-2 punch of Bryce Elder and Spender Strider in the upcoming series, but will battle the likes of A.J. Smith-Shawver, Jared Shuster, and Charlie Morton.
But it's not the Braves arms that should intimidate this Reds team, but rather Atlanta's bats. Marcell Ozuna, Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuña Jr. are part of one of the best lineups in the National League. The Braves +106 run differential is the best in the NL, and they trail only the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays for the major league lead.
Not only do the Cincinnati Reds face an uphill battle agains the best team in the NL, but once this three game series wraps on Sunday afternoon, the club will head to Baltimore for a three-game tilt with one of the best teams in the American League.
Were it not for the Tampa Bay Rays and this recent 11-game win streak from the Redlegs, the Baltimore Orioles could be the talk of baseball this season. The O's have been terrific this season, and kind of laid the blueprint for how the Reds rebuild could unfold.
The next six games will test the Reds mettle and may essentially act as a measuring stick for this year's team. If Cincinnati can emerge from the next six contests with a .500 record or better, it'll show that this team is for real.