COMMENTARY | Despite the St. Louis Cardinals taking four of the first six games played between them and the Cincinnati Reds, the Reds are still positioned well to end the season at the top of the division.
Here are the five biggest reasons why the Reds are better off than the Cardinals:
1. Starting Pitching
The Cincinnati Reds are first in all of Major League Baseball in quality starts. For a team playing half of its games in the bandbox known as Great American Ballpark, that's an amazing feat. The Reds' rotation is capable of shutting down any offense on almost any given day. Johnny Cueto is an unmistakable ace, Mat Latos is quickly becoming ace #2, and then there's Homer Bailey (who tossed a no-hitter last year), Bronson Arroyo, and Mike Leake (or perhaps rookie sensation Tony Cingrani).
The Cardinals have had issues with their bullpen so far this year -- and playing musical chairs with your closer is usually a recipe for disaster. The Reds, on the other hand, have, for better or worse, firmly cemented flame-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman as their closer -- the same Chapman who notched 38 saves with a 1.51 ERA last year.
All teams suffer injuries at some point in their season. For the Reds, the injury bug struck on opening day with cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick. The Reds have also lost Ludwick's backup to injury and their opening-day catcher. Furthermore, the Reds lost opening-day starting pitcher Johnny Cueto as well. Despite the rash of injuries, the Reds remain a mere two games out of first place heading into their weekend series with the Chicago Cubs.
For as good as the Reds' pitching has been, their offense has been hit or miss. A big reason for the inconsistency on offense is Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Votto has been an on-base machine, but he hasn't hit for as much power as expected.
Bruce is a notoriously streaky hitter and has yet to have a hot streak at the plate. History has shown that Bruce will get hot and carry the team at some point in the season, and Votto can still be expected to hit for a bit more power as his injured knee continues to improve. With either Votto or Bruce hitting for power, the Reds' lineup becomes scary. If they both hit for power? Well, I'd hate to be the guy in charge of fireworks at Great American Ballpark.
As opening day approached, it was clear the Reds' first month schedule was quite difficult. Now that April is complete, the Reds get a bit of an easier run (Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Miami Marlins) make up the next four series. The Reds seemed to have a team goal of ending up at least .500 by the end of April, which keeps them ahead of last year's 97-win Reds team -- which had a mere 11-11 record heading into May.
Chris Reed lives in Pennsylvania but has been a Reds follower for about thirty years. He has written extensively about the club for over a decade on various blogs and websites. He founded Nachos Grande, a blog that combines his love of the Reds and that of baseball cards.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cincinnati Reds
- Joey Votto
- Johnny Cueto
- Jay Bruce
- Great American Ballpark