Save statistic is a bigger indictment of the Reds' hitting than the team's pitching

The Reds' offensive struggles are staggering.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds' bats have been a major letdown this season. While missing Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and until recently TJ Friedl, hasn't helped, Reds' hitters rank among the worst in Major League Baseball.

The Reds are among the bottom five teams in the big leagues in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. This puts Cincinnati in the same company with the likes of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's, and Miami Marlins.

It's no wonder that the Reds enter today's series against the Chicago Cubs eight games below .500 having lost two straight to a division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. But one stat that sticks out like a sore thumb is the number of save opportunities the Reds' bullpen has had this season.

Save statistic is a bigger indictment of the Reds' hitting than the team's pitching

The Reds are dead-last in MLB in save opportunities heading into Friday's game against the Cubs. The Reds have a league-worst 14 save opportunities in 2024. Thankfully, Cincinnati has converted all but three of those chances.

Saves are relatively new — not becoming an official statistic until 1969. Saves are awarded to the relief pitcher who maintains the lead and finishes the game for the winning team. But those chances have been few and far between this season.

Only two Reds pitchers — Alexis Dìaz (10) and Lucas Sims (1) — have even been in position to earn a save this season. While neither Díaz nor Sims have been truly elite this season, both pitchers have done their job when called upon. But the Reds' 14 save opportunities speak volumes about the team's inability to secure a lead late in a game.

The Reds' pitching staff has been good enough this season. The Reds bullpen ranks eight in strikeouts, 12th in hits allowed, and 14th in ERA. Cincinnati's starting rotation ranks 16th in ERA and 17th in WHIP. While those numbers are far from ideal, it's not the reason why the Reds are sitting at 24-32 two months into the season.

The Reds need the bats to wake up. Cincinnati has a number of upcoming series against division opponents in June, but the pitching staff can't do it all. Manager David Bell needs Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, and Jeimer Candelario to get hot or this season could be all but over before the All-Star break.

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