I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve already said “This team is probably done.” It’s not that I don’t have faith in the talent of this team to win a bunch of baseball games, it’s just that they have dug themselves in a hole in arguably the most competitive division in baseball that digging themselves out seemed less and less likely with the passing weeks. The most recent time I thought that was last Sunday. Though the Reds had just beat the Texas Rangers to avoid a sweep, they still sat 7 games out of first place and 7 games under .500. With the way the Reds had played recently and a three game series with the Houston Astros looming, the possibility of them being 10 games out of first place and 10 games under .500 was very real.
Since that Sunday the Reds have won 4 straight games. They swept the Astros by winning three one-run games, which pretty much defies everything they had done in 2019, and took game 1 against the Milwaukee Brewers. The mindset around this team now is completely different. They are 5.5 games out of first place and 4 out of the 2nd Wild Card spot. Given how the pitching continues to be solid and with the hitting finally coming around again, those deficits could be even lower by the end of the weekend.
It definitely won’t be easy. The Reds seemingly never get a break with their schedule, and these last 14 games before the All-Star Break are no different. They have the Anaheim Trouts next week before facing of against the Cubs and then play the Brewers again. It presents a huge opportunity to make up ground in the division, but it could also be disastrous if they don’t keep playing well. If they’re going to go on a hot streak, now is the perfect time to do it. The Reds aren’t dead yet, but they still have some work to do.
All stats and notes are through Wednesday’s games.
2019 Reds - Capsule 4
Season Strength of Schedule: .509 (6th hardest in NL; 7th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .500 (10th in NL; 14th in MLB)[Previous: .498 - 10th NL; 16th MLB)
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 2.9% (Previous 3.2%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 8.0% (Previous 9.5%)
- .240/.310/.416 slash line for capsule 4, compared to the NL average of .259/.323/.449 and .269/.328/.426 for capsule 3.
- The regulars, according to plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Dietrich, Iglesias, Suarez, Puig, Winker, Senzel.
- Capsule 4 was a pretty bad stretch for the offense again. After improving to a league average offense over the previous 2 capsules, they looked a lot more like they did at the beginning of the season. The only difference was that they found a way to win a few more games.
- Joey Votto is finally turning back into himself. He hit .304/.391/.500 for capsule 4. He is still striking out more than normal, as he had 16 strikeouts to only 8 walks, but things are looking much more normal with him. He had the highest OPS among the regulars at .891 and had 7 extra-base hits.
- It’s so good to be able to watch Nick Senzel play every day. He hit .250/.274/.500 for capsule 4 and tied for the team lead in hits with 17 and led the team in XBH with 11, 8 of which were doubles. It’s going to be so much fun watching this kid’s career progress.
- Jesse Winker had another solid capsule, hitting .277/.346/.468 over the last 18. He is now 3rd on the team in OPS and SLG, trailing Eugenio Suarez and Derek Dietrich in those categories. He also only struck out 6 times, which made him the only regular to have single-digit strikeouts in this capsule.
- Yasiel Puig had the highest SLG among the regulars for this capsule at .516. He hit 4 home runs and 4 doubles while driving in 7. He has put up an OPS of .878 over the last month, which suggests that Yasiel Puig has been back to his old self for quite some time.
- Eugenio Suarez has really struggled over the last few weeks. He hit .164/.263/.224 for capsule 4. His 8 walks led the team but he didn’t do much else at the plate. He only had 2 XBH and his OPS of .487 was by far the lowest among the regulars.
- Tucker Barnhart just continues to struggle this season. He hit .212/.308/.273 over this capsule and that’s pretty much what he’s done most of the year. He’s having what is by far the worst season of his career at the plate, slashing .200/.298/.329 in 2019.
- Derek Dietrich hit 4 home runs in this capsule. 3 of them came all the way back on May 27 against Pittsburgh. He has struggled quite a bit since then, hitting .094/.237/.219 over the last 2 weeks.
- Team ERA of 3.34 for capsule 4, compared to the NL average of 5.05 and 4.04 for capsule 3.
- The pitching once again, was fantastic. They kept the Reds in games when the offense struggled and continued to come through in big situations. Going into Thursday, the Reds pitching staff had the 3rd best ERA in major league baseball. Look how far they’ve come.
- Luis Castillo was, once again, an ace for the Reds. He made 3 starts that spanned 18 innings and allowed only 3 earned runs in that time. His walk total was a little high at 12, but he struck out 21 batters. This kid is so damn good.
- Sonny Gray made 3 starts and allowed 5 runs over 15.2 innings while walking only 5 and striking out 15. He really struggles to stretch out his starts, as the longest outing of the season for him has been 6.2 innings.
- Anthony DeSclafani really turned it on in this capsule. After struggling for much of the season, he allowed only 6 runs over his 4 starts in capsule 4 and only allowed 1 run in each of his last 3 starts. His best outing was a 5 inning, 1-run performance against St. Louis where he only walked 1 and struck out 7. The last time he allowed less than 3 runs in a start before that was back on May 1, when he struck out 8 Mets over 5.2 shutout innings.
- Tyler Mahle struggled through his first 3 starts in this capsule, allowing 8 earned runs in 14.1 innings of work. The third start is, as you all remember, the one where he expressed his frustration of being removed early in games. He turned that frustration around in his last start of this capsule by allowing only 2 runs in 7 innings of work against the Houston Astros.
- Tanner Roark had his worst capsule of the season, allowing 10 runs in 18 innings of work over 3 starts. He did allow only 3 walks in those starts, but gave up 20 hits in that same time.
- The bullpen was great once again. David Hernandez threw 7 innings and only allowed 2 runs while walking 2 and striking out 12. Amir Garrett also only allowed 2 runs in his 8 innings while striking out 8 and walking 4. Raisel Iglesias only gave up 1 run in his 7 appearances, but he struggled to keep guys off the base paths. He allowed 7 hits and walked 6 over his 5.2 innings of work. The bullpen’s ability to keep runs off the board was a huge reason for the Reds to be able to win more games this capsule with the way their offense struggled.
- A team’s defensive efficiency rating (DER) measures their ability to turn balls in play into outs. The Reds’ DER sits at .697, which is tied for 3rd best in the National League and is above the NL average of .690.
The Next 18:
- 9 games at home, 9 on the road.
- 11 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
- 4 of the next 18 are against an American League opponent, two of which use the DH.
- 16 of the next 18 against 2018 playoff teams.
- .533 combined winning percentage for teams in the next 18.
- Hoo boy this is an important stretch for the Reds. They have 8 games coming up against Milwaukee and 3 against the Cubs. The worst team they play in this stretch going strictly off of wins and losses is the Anaheim Angels, who are 1 game over .500 and happen to have Mike Trout on their team. The Reds can’t afford any slip-ups like they had earlier in the month where they lost 5 of 7. A stretch like that at the wrong time could effectively end their playoffs chances.