Now this is getting serious. Just 15 games left and the Reds trail 3rd place by only 3.5. I never expected that the end of the season to be so tens. Did you?
On the mound for the Reds is Homer Bailey, who has a 2.23 ERA over his last 5 starts. The downside is that he hasn't managed to be very efficient over his last couple of starts. He's thrown at least 115 pitches in each of his last 2 starts and hasn't made it out of the 6th inning either time. This is something that young pitchers seem to learn over time, especially if they manage to have some success. It was something that Johnny Cueto started to show a lot more early in the year compared to last year. It'd be nice to see Bailey start to do it this year in his last couple of starts. The only way you can go deep into games is if you can keep your pitch count down. If Bailey can start doing that, he may lock himself up a rotation spot for next year, if he hasn't already.
The Reds are attempting tonight to put together their 3 win streak of at least 5 games since August 23rd. You may remember August 23rd as the day that Scott Rolen came off of the disabled list from his concussion. Since that date, the Reds have gone 17-8 and have put up a .260/.340/.419 batting line, which is actually better than the NL average for the year (.259/.331/.410). If anything, I think this shows that this team might have the pitching and defense to be competitive if they can just put up an average offense.
And the defense and pitching have been excellent. In fact, since Rolen, Paul Janish, and Drew Stubbs have been regulars in the lineup, the Reds have committed only 11 errors and given up just one unearned run in 25 games. They had given up 41 unearned runs in the previous 122 games before that. I'm sure it is somewhat coincidental and a result of a small sample, but I think we are finding that an excellent defense can be a powerful tool. Frankly, that's the only thing that gives me hope right now for 2010.