16-21. That’s the Cincinnati Reds record as this article is being typed up. They have the day off before returning to the field on Friday to play two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. There are 23 games remaining in the season. In order to finish at least .500, the Reds must go 14-9 (or better).

There’s not a known record needed in order to qualify for the playoffs. The general belief is that finishing .500 will certainly do the trick, but that’s not a guarantee, either. Every division winner and second place team within a division makes the playoffs. Then the next two best records in the league make the playoffs. Within the division, the Cubs are up top at 22-14. It’s highly unlikely that the Reds catch them – they are 6.5 games back right now and it would take an incredible run to make up that kind of ground. But the Cardinals are 14-14 and the Reds are just 2.5 games back of St. Louis.

The two non-second place wild card spots are currently in the hands of the 16-16 Miami Marlins and the 18-19 Colorado Rockies. There’s that .500-ish mark again. The Brewers are 17-19, and the Giants are 18-20. Cincinnati can handle things all on their own with Milwaukee, who they play three times later this month. Keep winning, and sweep the Brewers, and they can jump right by them. But they don’t play the Marlins, Rockies, or Giants this season and can’t do anything about them but hope they lose more games than they win moving forward.

Looking at the Reds schedule the rest of the way, it is both favorable and unfavorable. The favorable part is that they have eight games remaining against the worst team in the league – the Pittsburgh Pirates. If Cincinnati is going to have any chance at the playoffs they need to win at least six of those games. It would probably be even better if they could just take all eight of them, however unlikely that is, because the rest of the schedule isn’t going to be easy.

After the 4-game series over three days in Pittsburgh the Reds get an off-day on Monday. But then they hit the road for six games against the Cubs and Cardinals. Beginning the following Monday is another 4-game series over three days against Pittsburgh, but this one is in Cincinnati. There’s a day off on Thursday the 17th, but then they open a 6-game home stand with the 22-15 White Sox and the Brewers. They get the 24th off, but then travel to Minnesota to face the Twins to end the season. Minnesota is currently 22-16.

The Reds must take care of business against the Pirates because everyone else they face is playing for their playoff lives, too. Fangraphs gives Cincinnati a 40% chance of making the playoffs as things stand today, projecting them to finish 29-31. Their remaining schedule, which includes eight games against the worst team in the league, has a winning percentage of .544. Among the teams not currently in the playoff spots, only the Mets at .548 is higher. The Giants and Rockies are both facing a sub .500 schedule moving forward. The Marlins, who are sitting at .500, have a .424 winning percentage schedule ahead of them.

It’s not going to be easy, but the Reds are going to have to play up to their potential and they’re going to need to do it every day the rest of the way. There’s not enough time remaining in the season for any hiccups. Every opportunity they have to win, they must take advantage of. The bullpen can’t blow any games. The offense can’t have any more games where they get three hits. Every cylinder needs to be firing from here on out. It starts tomorrow in Pittsburgh with Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer on the mound. If you can take both of those games, going 12-9 the rest of the way to get to that .500 mark feels a lot more possible and realistic.

33 Responses

  1. Moses

    You talk about how critical the Pittsburgh games are, but I’d stress the importance of the games against St. Louis and Milwaukee, since those are the two teams ahead of us which we can catch. Heck, we could go 0-8 against Pittsburgh and make the playoffs by winning every single other game, and that’s a better 15-8 by virtue of the teams we’re knocking off. Not a scenario that’s going to happen, but we just need to get significantly more wins than losses at this point. The number of hits and bullpen meltdowns matter little, as long as they happen during the eight losses…

  2. indydoug

    I think they go 13-10 and just miss the playoffs losing a tiebraker with the Brewers at 29-31.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    Health isn’t an issue, other teams have had their schedules wrecked and still performed, and the season is long enough for the ‘bad luck’ small sample narrative to be debunked.

    Whatever happens, if they miss the playoffs I’ll have zero tolerance for excuses from the players or front offices.

    • JayTheRed

      I have to agree with you on this. They went out spent money on pretty good players normally but the leadership in the franchise is such a mess. I like several things that have happened the past 2 off-seasons, but there is very little drive.

      Honestly a big part of the losing has come from the manager himself… ya ya I know he isn’t throwing the pitches or standing in the batters box blah blah blah…. There have been so many times that I didn’t understand why a pitcher was taken out. I don’t want to hear 3rd time through the order business either… When a pitcher is pitching well and he is under 120 pitches let him keep going. Why take a risk with something that is working fine. Especially in games of 3 runs or less difference. Also not every player on the bench needs to play every other day or every third day. I can think of at least a half dozen situations when watching a game when Bell would take a starter out when we were only behind by a run to two or three. Honestly about the best thing Bell has done this season is benching Votto and giving him a wakeup call that hey look. Either produce or your not going to be a regular anymore. Now I doubt that was said ever but these guys need to be pushed and Bell just doesn’t seem to do that.. Its always ho hum… We tried hard today and we will get them next time. Enough of that. I am so frustrated with the past 7 years how this team has acted. Since this is an odd year with the shortened season and the world is a giant mess, I’ll give them next year to get it together or I’m looking for a new team.

  4. jim walker

    To steal a phrase, Just Win Baby, Just Win.

    That simple; that hard to do.

    • Charles Lackey

      Very sorry to say in my opinion this REDS TEAM really doesn2care if they win or lose. Team has no hitting, awful bullpen, no closer, only fair defense, haven’t a clue on how to run the bases because they rarely have a base runner…Overall this REDS TEAM is awful and really I don’t think they could win a game from a High School Team.

  5. Don

    The end of the 1stparagrpah is all that needs to be said:

    the Reds must go 14-9 (or better)

    then hope they win the right 14 games and get lucky with the rest of the teams Wins and Losses as the Reds probably do not control their own destiny @ 30-30.

    The Reds do not seem able to win a series vs AL teams so a 2-4 record vs White Sox and Twins is probable.

    The means 12-5 in the division and no more than 1 loss in any series in the division.
    Pirates 6-2
    Brewers 2-1
    Cards 2-1
    Cubs 2-1

    The Reds really need to find a way to get a sweep of the Cards and Brewers and that would be 500 or better against all the division rivals and should be good enough for 2nd place in the NL Central.

    • jim walker

      This is why I said just win. All the games in the division except those last interleague games at the end. If the Reds take down the division teams, the actual numbers won’t really matter

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    The reds, really working with six-man rotation in this point of the season… Castillo, Bauer, Disco, Gray, Mahle and Antone…

    • seadog

      You forgot our big rotation sign—Miley In my opinion. You have 5 Move Disco/Miley to the pen

    • Klugo

      Send Disco to the ‘pen. Really. He’d probably make a pretty good reliever.

    • Charles Lackey

      He has proven he isn’t a consistent pitcher, really a thrower not a starting pitcher.

  7. Charlie Waffles

    In these final 23 games, the Reds and David Bell will need to come to each game ready to chew bubblegum and kick butt. And the Reds and Bell are all out of bubblegum. Wait, no, wait a second. I see David Bell in the dugout sitting on the bench beside two buckets of bubblegum. Never mind. Reds go 10-13 in the final 23 games and go 26-34 for the 2020 season.
    Silver lining = David Bell gets fired after many thought the Reds would win the division. For Reds fans, if Bell gets fired it will be winner, winner, chicken dinner.
    I am sooooo tired of watching this team play like Zombies under David Bell’s managing. I haven’t seen anything this bad on TV since I watched a re-run episode of 2 1/2 Men with Ashton Kutcher in the lead. And that was really, really bad.

  8. Charlie Waffles

    Oh, how important now are those 5 or 6 games that David Bell just flat out squandered?

  9. Indy Red Man

    Well win a game that Castillo starts for one thing.

    Bottom line they only had 4 hits yesterday. The offense just hasn’t clicked all year. If they somehow finished 8th and played Washington Generals to the Dodgers, is that really a positive? They need to get to 7th.

  10. seadog

    I am sorry, I just don’t see this team getting close to 500 at this point. They are what they are. It is what it is. They are a sub 500 team. They have proved it. This team is just “built” wrong. It does not live up to “winning” in 2020. Sneaking in to any play-offs this year is not a win. I still hope they do….Going forward
    1. Bauer/Castellanos/Galvis/Disco are gone. You have to go forward for the rest of this year expecting that.
    2. Put a “rotation” together of Gray/Castillo/Mahle/Antone and Miley or Lodolo
    3. You have to bring Stephenson up. Let him play. See what we have/season him. Play Garcia everyday.
    4. Outfield…If anyone here really thinks Castellanos will stay–WOW. The guy will opt out. As he should. He will be one of the top 3 free agents coming up. He is better than Springer. That leaves your outfield as– Goodwin RF/SenzelCF/WinkerLF. With Akyima/Punisher off the bench. There will not be a DH at this point.
    5. Reds are stuck with some “lofty” contracts.. Votto/Moustakas/Miley Any of these would be hard to move.

    There is good news–going forward.
    1. They have tremendous pitching depth. Even with Bauer/Disco opting out. Not only that they have a DEEP bullpen.
    2. Garcia/Stephenson should be quality MLB players with tremendous up side.

    This organization just has to step back and say..2020 is done. 2021 has a bright future. Play the pieces/hand you have now for 2021. They made this bed–sleep in it.
    They can win in 2021.

    • Rob

      Have a different view. I don’t think you should count on Garcia and Stephenson being plus contributors in 2021. Won’t argue that there may be potential here beyond 2021.

      I see this year as having more talent and more opportunity than 2021 as we currently see it. Until the lights go dim, and that may happen in the next week, I would play my best players every day. We probably need to win >6 and probably 7 of the next 10 road games. 6-4 would leave us 3 games under 500 with like 14 to go. That would qualify as a chance.

      But the bottom line here Is some level of playoff success. I personally wouldn’t get any satisfaction from making the playoffs and getting beat up in the first round. And my personal prognosis is that they are not going to make it. They can’t score runs today when there supposedly is this sense of urgency. How are they going to score against quality teams and quality pitchers when guys like Kim and Quintana and Anderson shut them down?

      Something seems broken to me. The manager?

  11. DataDumpster

    This short season could bring almost anything so I have no predictions nor do I have any advice. I’m convinced that the team has little incentive or maybe even the skills needed to do anything different in the rest of the season with the training, philosophy and management they have received from David Bell. But, even this team is capable of running off a 4 game winning streak that could change everything. They have done that twice in the 199 games under Bell. (They just can’t follow that with a 4 game losing streak as they did both previous times.) However, if they fail, there’s still enough raw talent for next year. Except for Winker, the other 5 “most everyday” players on the roster before Bell arrived are each hitting more than 43 points below their batting average in 2018. All the high value players we paid more than 9 million each for in 2019 (Gennett, Puig, Roark, Kemp and Wood) all fizzled out. We had an excellent defensive shortstop (Jose Iglesias) with a .288 average last year with a fairly modest salary. We let him go for nothing. He’s now hitting over .400 in 84 AB with the Orioles. We instead favored Freddy Galvis for SS at about double (5.5 mil) Jose’s salary. We picked Pedro Strop to back up the bullpen. Used him for only 2.1 innings, then put him out to pasture (DFA), so we could bring in another SS (Garcia) to hopefully replace Galvis. Bauer wanted to pitch every fourth day and it was receiving consideration but never tried. Lorenzen did very well last year in some two way player opportunities. He has only 1 AB this year but we surely enjoyed watching him throws those high fastballs that got repeatedly clobbered. Shogo came to us as one of the top OBP men in Japanese baseball for several years. He was touted as a key missing piece of our lineup. David Bell never used him as such. He usually batted 6th if he was even in the lineup. I could go on but don’t want to get website flagged for excessive data usage… I just hope the Reds get whatever result they deserve for their remaining play this year. If they fail to make the playoffs or just slink in and show badly in the first round, then David Bell getting fired will bring back the hope that would otherwise be lost.

  12. doofus

    The Reds need to simply get their collective heads out of their butts and kick ass.

    • seadog

      We are on the same page. From top to bottom they have to do better.
      And, yes they are capable of a run.

  13. Ron

    How do the Reds make the playoffs? They need to start treating every game like the final game of the World Series. They should have been doing that from day one. Instead, pitchers were allowed to give up 7 or 9 runs before being pulled, hitters have been trying to hit everything out of the park rather than advance runners or get on base, etc. This team should have been better than what they’ve shown, but there has been no urgency by anyone (players or manager) to make changes, adjustments, etc. We’ll get’em tomorrow doesn’t work in a 60 game season. The Reds still have a shot, but the lackadaisical attitude and effort needs to stop. Act like you want to win. Do your job. Give us fans something to get excited about. We deserve it.

  14. CFD3000

    Perhaps this is unfair, but I wonder if some of you don’t derive more pleasure from criticizing, well… everything than actually rooting for the Reds.

    Here’s a scenario I’d have been thrilled to consider any time in the last six years or so: 23 games left in the season. Win 14 of those and the Reds are in the playoffs. And the starting pitchers for that stretch run are Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and some combination of DeSclafani, Miley and Mahle. And a healthy Nick Senzel is about to come off the DL. And more than a third of the games left are against the worst team in the league, the Pirates.

    If the Reds fail hard, fine, see who can be persuaded to stay from Bauer, Castellanos, and DeSclafani. Commit to Garcia at short and Stevenson catching. Upgrade the bullpen. Part ways with Galvis and one of Casali or Barnhart. But that’s an issue for 2021. Have the Reds underperformed? Yes. Has David Bell been iffy? Yes. Are we all disappointed? Yes. But gentleman (and ladies) – the Reds are in a playoff hunt with a team that at least on paper is good enough to win 14 of 23. And I’ll promise you this – anyone saying they don’t care if they win or not, or they are indifferent or lack “Fire”, just go watch the end of Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals. Because you’re wrong about that.

    So… stop griping about what you wish was happening and start noticing that the Reds are in a playoff hunt. In a year where we could just as easily have had no baseball at all. I for one am excited that the Reds have 23 potentially meaningful games left in this last month of the season.

    • Indy Red Man

      Get excited about trying to sneak into 8 out 15? Not me. I expected like 5th-6th which is where the oddsmakers had the Reds. They’re a decent to good team on paper. If they make it then I’ll watch, but they’ve been flat and have shown little ability to adapt on the fly. They get about 5-6 hits a game and thats not entertaining.

    • Jefferson Green

      Well said, CDF. Lots in the world to be negative about; being negative about being a ‘fan’ of a team (not to mention overwhelmingly, almost constantly negative by some) is perplexing. Some justified criticism and debate over decisions and tactics and projections is fun, for sure, that’s why these blogs exist – but not when it’s the majority of commentary. Life is too short and ‘real’ life too difficult. If over half of my feelings about a team (or any part of life) are negative, I will hopefully shift and go find somewhere to invest my time that is more fulfilling. There are times that I have taken a break from this site for just that reason.
      I invite anyone here to look over there comments to see if they have made errors in the negative judgments they have posted. Some possible examples:
      – if you said earlier this year that Winker would never hit well enough to deserve a daily lineup spot
      – if you said similar things about Suarez a couple weeks ago
      – if you said Bell was incompetent for removing Miley after four innings in his last start
      If so, own them, and consider the possibility that your negativity isn’t always reality based.
      Am I wanting too much positivity? Too idealistic? Too Pollyanna? Perhaps. But three weeks ago I was lying on my couch, just wishing to breathe without pain or coughing, too sick to even want to watch a game. I am more grateful than ever for the chance to be a healthy fan, to root for my favorite team, and to breathe freely. Yes, I always want this site to be uplifting, and now more than ever. Only WE have the power to make it so – each of us individually.

      • Old-school

        I criticized votto and said he was done. Bell did the right thing. Votto responded. Votto’s road numbers are poor. He needs to lead in Pittsburgh

  15. Kevin Patrick

    In order for the Reds to make the playoffs, they simply need to pitch and hit. One of the things that might indicate a change in future hitting is seeing Akiyama just starting to perhaps get a bit more comfortable, Votto getting important hits, Barnhardt finally getting back into the swing of things (which has taken a long time), and frankly reduced options for outfielders. They need to create a hitting environment that puts regular pressure on opposing pitchers… striking out is not pressure. I’m tired of watching fastballs near the zone being taken for strike three. Umpires seem to be erring on the side of strike calls rather than walks. The Reds simply need to be better two strike hitters…When the Reds have won, it seems they ambush starters and get early leads. I just don’t think that approach is sustainable. Too many mediocre opposing pitchers look good against our lineup. I know I’ve seen some great at bats this year, just need to see more of them more often.

    • Rob

      On the same page. Every game or loss seems like it has an excuse. Not getting the clutch hit, only getting 4 hits, or falling behind. Hey it is OK to lose; it will happen. The problem is, given the Reds situation, is it can not happen very often in the next 5-10 games. As a minimum we have to WIN the upcoming series against the Pirates and Cards, and 1 or 2 vs the Cubs. That is 6-7 wins out of 10 and gets us within 2-3 of 500. Nowhere near as tall of task as what would be ahead of the team if we were to only win 5 of the next 10. Then we would be talking winning 9-10 of the last 13 …… meaning a couple of sweeps.

      To get where we want to get probably means we are going to have to win 2-3 comeback games where we are down 2-3 runs late and definitely not blow any late leads. Probably even win a game or two where we give up 7-8 runs. A 500 level team just can’t play 600+ baseball for 20+ games without having these things happen.without

      Doable but not without challenges at this point.

  16. Don

    Best way for Reds to make the playoffs is 2nd in the division (4-6 seed), this starts this weekend (including Monday for Cards/Cubs) with the Reds winning at least 3 of 4 from Pirates, having the Cubs take 4 of 5 from Cards and have Cleveland win 2 of 3 vs Brewers
    This would result would be the Reds in 2nd place by percentage points.
    Cards 4 under 500 (15-19) .441
    Brewers 3 under 500 (18-21) .461
    Reds 3 under 500 (19-22) .463

    Rest of Season Schedule after this weekend
    Cards (2 Twins, 2 Tigers, 3 Reds, 10 Brewers, 5 Pirates, 3 Royals) – 58 Games
    Brewers (2 Tigers, 3 Cubs, 10 Cards, 3 Royals, 3 Reds) – 60 Games
    Reds (3 Cubs, 3 Cards, 4 Pirates, 3 White Sox, 3 Brewers,3 Twins) – 60 Games

    Brewers and Cards have 10 games still (two 5 game series with 3 double headers), those will have a huge impact on whom is making the playoffs NL Central.

    Looking at schedules for teams outside the division possibility for Wild Card (7th or 8th seed)

    NL East
    Phillies 18-15 (7 Mets, 2 Red Sox, 7 Marlins, 4 Blue Jays, 4 Nationals,3 Rays)
    Marlins 16-16 (3 Rays, 7 Braves, 7 Phillies, 3 Red Sox, 5 Nationals, 3 Yankees)
    Mets 17-21 (7 Phillies, 3 Braves,2 Orioles,3 Blue Jays, 3 Rays, 4 Nationals)

    Lots of games still between these 3 teams, Rays (1st in AL East will have an impact as well as Blue Jays and Yankees (tied 2nd) in AL East)

    NL West
    Rockies 18-19 (7 Dodgers, 3 Padres,4 Giants, 4 D-Backs,3 Angels)
    Giants 18-20 (4 D-Backs, 7 Padres,4 Rockies, 4 Mariners,3 A’s)

    Dodgers and Padres will have a big impact on these teams final record as well as he 4 games between the teams.

    This all starts with the Reds figure out how to score some runs against the Pirates for Castillo and win game #1.

  17. docproc

    Flip Lorenzen and Disco, rotation/bullpen.

  18. Old-school

    A productive healthy Joey Votto is a starter at helping the offense A healthy Senzel improves the offense and Goodwin is an upgrade. Interesting to see how Shogo and Goodwin share playing time once Senzel returns.

    Joey Votto needs 8 hits for 2000, 10 Home runs for 300 and 44 RBI for 1000.

  19. Jefferson Green

    May JV hit all three milestones -and soon!