The first half of the Reds 2019 season was…interesting. It was littered with inconsistent offense and a consistently good pitching staff. We saw Joey Votto’s slow start morph into a more Votto like season. The first half allowed us to witness Luis Castillo continue to walk the road that leads to Ace City. We waited for, and eventually watched, Yasiel Puig catch fire and hit bombs (and also fight people).

If the second half of the season can replicate even a fraction of what the first half produced, then we are in for a fun (and sometimes frustrating) summer. Below are my top 5 storylines heading into the second half of the season:

1. Can the Reds stay in the race (any race)

The Reds are still in it! After being out of the divisional race by what seemed like the end of April in previous years, the Reds are still hanging around. They currently sit 4.5 games back in a division that apparently no one wants to win. They also sit only 4.5 games back in the Wild Card race. It will be interesting to see if the Reds can continue to grind away and make headway in the NL Central. The division is one of the most competitive in baseball and is clearly not as top heavy as it has been in years past. Every team seems to have a weakness. Whether or not the Reds end up winning the division or even make the playoffs – it’s fun and refreshing to even be talking about it in the middle of July.

2. Trades (of course)

It’s been a second half storyline for years now. Because the Reds are kind of in it but kind of not, they have an array of different directions they could take. They could add players, trade away all or some of their one year rentals, or stay put and let the season play out with what they currently have. Come next month, the living addresses of Scooter Gennett, Yasiel Puig, and/or Tanner Roark could be completely different from what they are now. It’ll be interesting to see how the Reds front office navigates the waters at this year’s trade deadline. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important and complicated deadlines the Reds have had in years.

3. The continued success of the pitching staff

It’s no secret that the Reds’ pitching basically carried the team through the first half of the season. They are currently second in the NL in ERA, FIP, and xFIP. The Reds have also given up the fewest runs in the league. Their starting pitching and bullpen have been better than most imagined. David Bell has been very thoughtful with the way he has managed the staff and I think the results speak for themselves. I’m interested to see if this pitching staff can continue to produce the way that it has. We already saw signs of the bullpen’s production somewhat declining as the All Star break approached. It will also be intriguing to see how a healthy Alex Wood fits in with this team and the repercussions that come from him taking someone’s spot in the Reds’ starting rotation.

4. Jesse Winker’s second half

Jesse Winker is interesting to me. He is currently slashing .250/.327/.460 – somewhat of a drop off from his 2018 slash of .299/.405/.431. He isn’t having a terrible year by any means, but I’m still waiting for the former number one prospect to take the next step. The Reds are pretty much using him exclusively against right handed pitching. It’s obvious that the lefty struggles against left handed pitching (.428 OPS), but you kind of have to wonder what the end game is here. Is Jesse Winker destined to be a platoon guy his entire career? Will the Reds give him more chances to prove himself against left handed pitching as the season goes on? Will Jesse Winker’s overall offensive productivity bounce back in the second half? Hopefully Jesse answers these questions (for the better) in the second half of the season.

5. Luis Castillo’s Cy Young run 

La Piedra (La pyeh-drah) Translation: The Rock

  1. The solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or oceans.
  2. Luis Castillo

Luis Castillo has been awesome this year. He’s taken the next step towards “Ace” status. Castillo is currently second in the NL in ERA (2.29). That being said, he has also missed some opportunities to really solidify himself as one of the best pitchers in the NL. He struggled at times in the first half when the Reds gave him run support. I’m interested to see how Luis Castillo continues to blossom in the second half and if he can fix some of the things that would deter him from being a serious Cy Young candidate.

There you have it. My top 5 storylines and the things I will be paying attention to in the second half of the season. What are some of the things you will be paying attention to in the second half?

17 Responses

    • Barbara

      I’ve never seen the Reds have so much fun together. It would be a big mistake to trade Puig. He gives 100% every game he’s in.

    • W.Lackey

      Reds need 2 or 3 very good hitters. Why not trade for a very g o of hitter plus bring up a couple up from the minors. Reds need at least one very good starter, forget about Wood helping out as it seems he never wanted to pitch for the Reds period.
      Plus the much used bullpen could certainly use a couple of pitchers for the bullpen. BUT AS FANS OF THE REDS WE ALL KNOW THIS FRONT OFFICE WILL MAKE NO MOVES AT ALL WHICH IS THEIR USUAL ATTACKS and also why the team will always be cellar dwellers.

  1. Jeff Gangloff

    I’d actually be 100% fine with it if the front office didn’t make any major trades at the deadline.

    • Seadog

      Derek Johnson is the MVP of this team in the first half. Just amazes me what he has done. Pitching/shifts on D. Should b your #1 story line period. Period. Period.

  2. George

    Jeff;
    Your article is the hope that most Red fans have, but until ownership is motivated to join your thoughts it will be 5th place again. The real question that someone in the media (not bloggers) needs to ask ownership is how much money will be budgeted for player salary next year.

  3. Centerfield

    I see the Reds optioned VanMeter and signed Ciuffo (to a minor league contract.)

  4. Centerfield

    Isn’t the first # for 19 and the second for 18?

  5. TR

    Will at least two or three Reds hitters step up to spark the offense to get runners in scoring position across the plate with a hit, not necessarily a homerun. Will the Reds win more series than they lose or split in the second half? So far winning three of three series against the Cubs and recently three of four games against the Brewers are good omens in the quest for .500 and beyond.

  6. daytonnati

    Sports Illustrated had a piece on the moves each team should make. Here is what they said about the Reds:

    Cincinnati Reds (41–46, fifth place in NL Central; 4.5 GB of second NL wild-card) — Trade for Blue Jays SS Freddy Galvis

    Cincinnati may be in last place in its division, but it’s not by much—just 4 ½ games out of first. And while the Reds are below .500, their Pythagorean record puts them at 47–40, which would be the second-best record in the NL. The math, in other words, suggests they may be buyers. If so, they can snag an easy upgrade on a problem position by adding Galvis, a well-traveled veteran. He’s not nearly the defender that incumbent Jose Iglesias is (to be fair, most aren’t), but he’s a far more capable hitter, with a .270/.309/.467 line and 107 OPS+ compared to Iglesias’ .282/.315/.390 and 80. If Cincinnati decides to sell, though, it can shake up the market in a big way by putting Yasiel Puig on the market. He’d make a lot of sense for the A’s or Indians.

  7. Steven Ross

    Get five games OVER .500 then we’ll talk.

  8. Tom Mitsoff

    I’d be surprised if the Reds make any deals of any significance. There aren’t any positions at which they have a surplus of above-average talent to deal from, with the possible exception of starting pitcher. They’re not going to get an everyday major leaguer who can help this year for Roark. I don’t even want to think about trading Reds veterans for prospects, because that will mean they have collapsed after the all-star break.

  9. Barbara

    I agree that Puig needs help offensively but who is better than him in right field. He’s quick and gives 100% every game.

  10. Roger Garrett

    Yep and does anybody think we are better then the teams in front of us?How many of our 8 position players would start for the Cubs?Or the Cards?Or the Brewers?Talent always wins out in the end.These teams have much much better talent.

  11. Paula Edge

    The team is a joy to watch. I haven’t been so interested in Baseball in years. My husband and I were there for Senzel’s second game and enjoy keeping up with him. We were there when Derrick Dietrich helped move the swarm of bees. I call him the Beewhisper. He is great to watch on the the field and at the plate as is Senzel. Sonny Grey is my favorite pitcher. He is awesome. We havel come to 4 games and would have come more if we didn’t live 3 hours away. We will be there at least 4 more times and hopefully more
    Let’s go Reds
    Paula Edge