Tonight's game against the Dodgers provides the Reds with some fantastic problems. With the NL Central Division clinched, do they trot out a lineup solely consisting of backups and bit players? Or, do they go with the everyday eight since they find themselves on national television tonight? Do play the guys who only have mild hangovers? Or, do they start anyone so long as they're no longer #drunj and a threat to the other guys on the field? If these are your greatest concerns as a manager, you're doing a pretty darn good job.
The Reds look to take the rubber game with a lineup that won't be as anemic as this post-Clinchmas effort, but still one sans Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, and Jay Bruce. There may be pouting from ESPN, but they'll shut up when they realize they can gawk at Joey Votto and retell stories about Todd Frazier saving other humans and being objectively awesome.
The Reds probably will need the bats of Votto and Frazier to have a solid chance against Clayton Kershaw who will be returning to the Dodgers rotation. Kershaw has been out since September 11 with an injured hip. Frankly, if the Doders look to make any sort of a run in overtaking the Cardinals, they will need him to pitch at or near his peak capability for the remainder of the season. Based on early results, the toxic assets they acquired from Boston aren't giving them a great return on investment.
Homer Bailey will toe the mound for the Reds tonight (fittingly) in hopes of getting the Reds one step closer to home field advantage. Bailey has been solid over his last four starts going 2-0 with an ERA of 1.55. While he's getting a bit of a reputation as a road pitcher, the Reds won the last game Homer pitched on Sunday Night Baseball at home against the Cardinals.
This may not be the best lineup for the Reds, but it's not the worst. This won't be the biggest crowd on hand tonight, but it won't be the smallest. The WOOO may annoy some people, but it won't be as annoying as the rally monkey. So, throw caution to the win, Reds fans, this game is pretty much a free play. We've got the division clinched and we're playing with house money night. Go Reds, they're my favorite team!