The Cincinnati Reds had Thursday off. They entered the day at 25-26 and percentage points ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for second place in the National League Central division. The Cardinals were 22-23 entering their series that began on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. When it came to the National League Wild Card race, the Reds were trailing the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies – both of whom entered the day at 24-24.

Let’s start in the National League Central with the Cardinals and the Pirates. Pittsburgh just got swept by the Reds and have far and away the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. Things didn’t go well for St. Louis, though, as starter Dakota Hudson left the game with an elbow injury in the 2nd inning and the Pirates offense beat up on the Cardinals bullpen in a 5-1 win. That dropped the Cardinals to 22-24 and a .478 winning percentage.

The Cardinals will play 12 games over the next 10 days, starting with a double header Friday in Pittsburgh. If you are quick on the math you will notice that St. Louis has played 46 games this season and that with 12 more games remaining that is only 58 games. If the Cardinals are still in the playoff race at the end of the day on September 27th and those remaining two games could come into play, they will have to travel to Detroit and play a double header against the Tigers.

Heading out west, the San Francisco Giants took on the Seattle Mariners. Things were looking good for the Reds in this match up for a while. The Mariners jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the 2nd inning and held that lead after five innings. But the Giants scored five runs over the next two innings and held on for the win to move to 25-24.

And then there was the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. New York scored three in the first inning. But the Phillies score four. Then Philadelphia scored two more in the second, running Seth Lugo from the game in the process. The Phillies bullpen, which might be the worst in the history of the game, entered the game. In the 6th inning the bullpen allowed an inherited runner to score, and then gave up a run of their own in a 3-run inning that tied the game up for the Mets. Then the dreadful 9th inning came. Brandon Nimmo led off the inning with a go-ahead homer. A single, triple, and home run would follow as the Mets grabbed a 10-6 lead, and while their bullpen ran into some issues in the bottom of the inning – Edwin Diaz would hit a better, and walk two others to load the bases with two outs, but he got out of the jam.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 24-25. While they still hold the final spot in the wild card race, if push came to shove, their winning percentage of .4897 trails the Reds winning percentage of .490 as of Friday morning. That doesn’t matter at this second because Cincinnati is in as the second place team in the National League Central. But the Reds need to remain ahead of the Cardinals in the division in order to not have to worry about the wild card spots.

Here are the current National League Playoff Standings:

National League W L PCT
1 LAD (W-1) 36 15 .706
2 CHC (C-1) 30 20 .600
3 ATL (E-1) 29 21 .580
4 SD (W-2) 32 19 .627
5 MIA (E-2) 25 23 .521
6 CIN (C-2) 25 26 .490
7 SF (WC) 25 24 .510
8 PHI (WC) 24 25 .490
Out STL 22 24 .478
Out MIL 23 26 .469
Out NYM 23 27 .460
Out COL 22 27 .449
Out WSH 18 29 .383
Out ARI 19 32 .373
Out PIT 15 34 .306

Things do not get easy for Cincinnati moving forward. They welcome in the Chicago White Sox tonight, who clinched a playoff spot on Thursday and are currently sitting atop the American League with a 33-17 record. The Reds will end their season by hitting the road to play the Minnesota Twins, who are currently 31-21. Between those two series they’ll play the Milwaukee Brewers in Cincinnati, who like the Reds, are fighting for their playoff lives. The combined winning percentage of the Reds opponents in the final nine games is .572.

The sweep of the Pirates does give the Reds a little bit of wiggle room. Finishing .500 might be enough to get in. That’s kind of been the target, but with Cincinnati and Philadelphia both one game under, San Francisco one game over, and the Cardinals two games under but with potentially 14 games remaining, there are scenarios where .500 doesn’t get it done. The Reds would need to go 5-4 the rest of the way to finish 30-30. That doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, but it’s also far from a guarantee given the quality of the opponents. Going 6-3 to finish 31-29 probably makes it happen, but again, that won’t be easy.

The Reds have been on a roll. They’ve won five in a row, six of seven, and seven of their last nine. They are playing well for more than two days in a row for what feels like the first time all season long, and it’s come at a pivotal time. But they have to keep that going over the next ten days. This isn’t the playoff race we wanted, but it’s a playoff race and Cincinnati’s in the thick of it. Now we all just get to sit back and watch it unfold – as scary as that thought is.

32 Responses

  1. Bred

    Will the Cards make up those 2 games? I thought I read that they would not and that winning percentage would determine their fate.

    • Mark Moore

      If that’s the case, then the hill gets a little steeper for the WLB’s, especially since those were against Detroit.

    • jim walker

      I thought I had read the same several places weeks ago. I guess MLB just keeps finding loopholes and wiggle room to change things on the fly.

      I’ve not tried to check the math to see if it is possible; but, if the Cards appear in after playing 58 games to everyone else’s (within the NL Central) 60 but 1 more loss could eliminate them, let’s hope they still have to go to Detroit and play those games.

      • vegastypo

        A beat writer in LA was telling me the same thing Doug was saying. If those final two games affect the playoff standings, they would be played.

        But MLB won’t play any tie-breaker games (such as Game 163 in a regular season). They’ll find some other way for tiebreakers.

      • jim walker

        @vegas Since top tiebreaker the last I heard was divisional records and the Cards vs Tigers would be interdivisional, we would already know any tiebreaker results before the game(s) were played. So, if worst the Cards could do (with 2 losses) was fall into a tie then the games could be skipped if the breaker is in their favor?

  2. Mark Moore

    Among the first things I checked this morning. Certainly makes our lives a bit easier in the grander scheme of things. Start with a win against the ChiSox tonight and that’s really a great trend.

    6 and 3 through the stretch, please … that’s what we’re asking. Anything more than that is a bonus. Plus by the time we go visit the Twinkies, they are a lock, likely at their seed, so maybe they will be looking ahead to the playoffs rather than focusing on the games at hand.

  3. Charlie Waffles

    We have been waiting 7 long years for this, meaningful baseball in mid-September. Not since the 2013 season have the Reds been in this position. Things went south in a hurry with injuries in August of 2014. Then in 2015 Jocketty goes to battle with the likes of Marlon Byrd, Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Brennan Boesch, Chris Dominguez and Skip Shumaker. And the rest is history.
    The Reds, Padres and White Sox all went through long and very painful rebuilds at about the same time and look where they stand today. However, the Reds still have to do some catching up with the Padres and White Sox. The Reds stumbled and fumbled through their rebuild process and drafts much more than the two other teams have. The Padres and White Sox are built now for sustained winning. The Reds are not, they are built for 2020. The Reds rebuild can easily fall apart this winter if they lose Bauer and Castellanos to free agency. Make no mistake, the Reds rebuild should never, ever be held up as a shining example of how MLB teams should do a rebuild. The Reds rebuild pales in comparison to the Padres and White Sox rebuilds.

    • jim walker

      Agree and even if Bauer (by some miracle) and Castellanos (reasonably likely given projected market conditions) stay the Reds will be among the older teams versus being among the younger teams in 2021. The future has been largely sold off to patch this current crew together.

      • Mark Moore

        Catellanos will not opt out. You heard it here … book it. He needs a full season to build his value.

        Resigning Bauer will take 3-5 documented miracles. We’re already in line to burn 1-2 of them over the next week to get us “IN”. I’m still of the opinion that somebody will bite on the 1-year, $35M … maybe even closer to $40M if we extend well into the post-season.

  4. Tom Reeves

    If the Cards play all those double headers and still make the playoffs, I’m seriously questioning their contractual relationship with the devil. That’s. Gauntlet run!

    As for the Reds schedule, I’m not worried about the tough remaining schedule. Playing tough teams in football makes teams worse because they get beat up. But, in baseball, playing tough teams make your team tougher. It’s just what the Redlegs need heading into the playoffs.

    • Reaganspad

      I am not questioning that…they are truly evil incarnate.

      But they do have the best uniforms in baseball, and the cardinal the bird is really cool.

      One of the mysteries of life is why the cardinals cannot fly over the Rockies (not talking about the football team here.

      I miss the birds, the fireflies and the thunderstorms from living in the Midwest

    • Mark Moore

      Look at our current record against teams with .500 or more … I’d say you are correct and +500 from me.

  5. RedBaron

    It will be interesting to see what the White Sox do with their lineup today. They have the 23 yr old rookie Stiever listed as their SP, despite Keuchel apparently ready to come of the IL as of yesterday. Stiever’s never pitched above A+ before this year and has only pitched 1 game and 3.2 innings this year with a 2.45 ERA

    Also will they rest some starters today or over the weekend after clinching and having a 3 game lead over the Twins now? They haven’t had a day off since September 10th and won’t have another day off for the rest of the regular season.

  6. Jpser05

    Any guesses on the Reds’ rotation over the next several days? Will Bauer finally get his chance to pitch every 4 days?

    My hope for the rotation
    18th- Bauer
    19th – Disco
    20th – Castillo
    21st – Mahle
    22nd – Gray
    23 – Bauer
    24 – Off
    25 – Disco
    26 – Castillo
    27 – Gray

    • RedBaron

      Could be a dangerous game with Bauer. He ran out of gas last start in the 7th. ChiSox SP is a rookie with 3.2 innings in his career and never pitched above A+ ball. They could have started Keuchel yesterday but didn’t. They are holding him back to start him in preparation of a playoff series IMO.

      I would guess they will rest some starters today as well after clinching last night and up 3 games over the Twins. I think we see Mahle then Antone coming in after him today.

      • Jpser05

        Actually you my be right on with that analysis. My thought was if they are resting people, Bauer, even if not at his best, could grab this win and keep the momentum going.

    • GreatRedLegsFan

      Mahle is listed as today’s starter

    • Woodrow

      I’ve got:
      White Sox
      Lorenzen or Disco
      Gray or Disco
      …off day…
      Gray or …

  7. jim walker

    Let’s hope it is worth it. Who of age can forget 1999 when the Reds magic number to clinch a playoff spot was 2 with 6 games (3 of their own vs Brewers plus 3 Metz vs Pirates) to go. For those too young to recall or otherwise occupied back then, the Reds managed to win only 1 versus the Brew Crew while the Metz swept the Pirates to force a 1 game playoff won by the Metz.

    And thus a team with 96, yes 96, regular season wins was on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

    • Mark Moore

      I have very not-fond memories of that game. My very pregnant wife, my then 2-year-old, and I were camping in Northern Michigan. It was pathetic … and I was a Mets fan way back as a kid.

    • jim walker

      @MM In my view it was the blown Friday night game vs Brewers that really did the Reds in for 1999. 2 runs allowed in the 8th by Scott Williamson and Danny Graves pushed the game into extra innings.

      I had forgotten till I just now checked to refresh my memories, that two of the three Mets vs. Pirates games were 1 run affairs with one of them pushing into extra innings after the Pirates scored twice late (8th inning) to tie it.

      And the Astros (then in the NL Central along with the Reds) only bested the Reds by 1 game for the division title (by taking 2 of 3 verus the Dodgers on the last weekend).

      Speaking of weird finishes, I’m trying to recall what the announced protocol was going to be if the Astros, Reds and Mets all ended up with the same record which of course missed happening by just 1 game (the Astros won 1 more).

  8. Mark Moore

    Starting Mahle tonight … hope the leash is short as we need to win the first one of this series to keep the pressure on all the way around.

    • Woodrow

      Yep. Antone and Sims should be fully stretched at first pitch.

  9. docproc

    On the projected rotation for next week, I’d rather see Antone start over Disco or Lorenzen.
    We’re likely to find out tonight what Bell has in mind for Antone and Lorenzen.

    • Redgoggles

      I’m actually a bigger fan of Lorenzen starting followed by Antone. TJ has shown he’s effective in either role, Mikey Biceps not so much. I think he doesn’t overthrow as much as a starter, plus it seems he’s kind of got a chip on his shoulder about starting. I’d say ride that as far as possible.

  10. Rednat

    i am surprised there has not been a bigger push for fans to get back in the stands. as mentioned in the recent comments. it has been 7 years since we made a playoff push and it will likely be another 7 years for the next playoff push. it would be nice to have some fans in the stadium. as fans, i believe we need to stand up for a rights to be able to watch the reds in person!

    • RedsFan11

      haha nice. apparently there are a few fans who sit outside the front gates and watch the game on the concourse TVs. thinking about doin that myself. First the gotta win 2 of 3 vs the chi sox to gain my trust.

  11. RedsFan11

    Only 3 teams really out of it going into this weekend (Wash, Ari, Pitt). Reds basically need everyone to keep beating up on each other/trading wins and losses, while continuing to win themselves. By the end of this weekend things will be much clearer on where they stand. Winning 2 of 3 will be most welcome

  12. Bred

    The Reds should have congratulated the WS by sending a dozen cases of champagne to their hotel when they arrived in Cincy. Did I read something like that in Ball Four all those years ago?

  13. KG

    It’s gonna be awesome to watch meaningful Reds baseball the last 10 days of the season! It’s been a while….a looong while. GO REDS! I was but a wee lad of 43 yrs old the last time we made the playoffs.

  14. Jimbo44 CN

    Don’t know if anyone else saw it, but Chris Russo had David Bell on high heat today. He seemed to be saying all the right things, but I just don’t see how this guy motivates anybody with that monotone drone. It just doesn’t seem like he gets excited by anything, but who knows, maybe that can be a good thing at times.

  15. Don

    From for tie breakers
    News article, published Sep 16th named: mlb-2020-postseason-tiebreaker-scenarios
    Should there be any ties for any of the above, this is how they will be settled in the 2020 format.

    Scenario: Two teams tie for a division championship, second place or Wild Card spot

    Head-to-head record will be used to break the tie, and this should be relatively straightforward for first place or second place in the divisions, because the teams will have played each other so often. For example, if the Phillies and Marlins were to tie for second place in the National League East, the Marlins would officially get that standing by virtue of their 7-3 record in the regular-season series. The Phillies would then have to be in Wild Card position to reach the postseason.

    If two teams from separate divisions are tied for a Wild Card spot (remember, there were no games outside of a team’s East, Central or West region this year), the next tiebreaker goes to the team with the higher winning percentage in its own division — also known as intradivision record. So if, say, the Phillies and Cardinals were tied for the final Wild Card spot, the determining factor would be the Phillies’ winning percentage against NL East opponents as compared to the Cardinals’ winning percentage against NL Central opponents.

    Should those winning percentages happen to be identical, the tiebreaker would go to the team with the higher winning percentage in the last 20 intradivision games (plus one game until the tie is broken).

    Scenario: Three- or four-way tie for a division championship, second place or Wild Card spot

    If all of the tied clubs are in the same division and have, therefore, played against each other, then the team with the highest winning percentage in games among those three clubs is the top seed, followed by the team with the second-highest winning percentage in those games and then the third-highest.

    So if, for example, the Marlins, Phillies and Mets were all tied for second place in the NL East, and the Marlins’ 11-9 record against the Phillies and Mets was the best of the bunch, the Marlins would lay claim to that spot, and the only way the Phillies and/or Mets could advance is if they are in Wild Card position.

    Should two of the above records be identical, the two-team tiebreaker scenario applies. Should all three be identical, then the club with the highest winning percentage in all intradivision games is the top seed.

    If the teams involved in the tie are not all from the same division and therefore have NOT all played each other during the regular season, then the club with the highest winning percentage in intradivision games receives the highest seed, followed by the team with the second-highest intradivision winning percentage, etc. So if it were Phillies, Cardinals and Giants all knotted up for the last Wild Card spot, whoever fared best in their division would get the spot.

    If two of the involved teams have identical intradivision records, the two-team tiebreaker rules apply. If three of the involved teams have identical intradvision records, then the club with the highest winning percentage in the last half of intradivision games is the higher seed.
    Cards own the tiebreak (won 6 of 10) vs the Reds
    Without the Cards playing 60 games the only tie possible is the Cards with a 29-29 record and the Reds 30-30.
    I assume Doug is right on the 2 games must play but if the 2 games are not played.
    The Cardinals with a 28-30 record (.4827 win%) and the Reds finish 29-31(0.4833) the Reds are ahead
    The flip side is is the Cardinals are 30-28(.5172) and the Reds finish 31-29(.5167) the Cards are ahead.
    In either case the Cards would only need to win one game of the 2 with the Tigers to tie the Reds in wins and take 2nd place (based on head to head tie breaker)

    There are three options which I can think that will not require the 2 games
    Options 1 and 2 require that 3rd place in the NL Central is not a wild card.
    1) Reds have 3 more wins in 60 games than the Cards have in 58 games due to the head to head tie breaker being in the Cards favor. (Reds in)
    2) The Cards have 2 more wins than Reds so worst is a tie record. (Cards in)

    3) Both Cards and Reds would qualify as a wildcard if not Division #2 and the win % is used to decide Div #2 vs WC.

    In the 58 for the Cards an Reds 60, the Reds Magic number is 12 so how many games the Reds win subtract from 12 and this is the number of Cards losses which are needed.
    examples of possible finishes to lock in the Reds next Sunday, no Cards Tigers DH.
    Reds finish 6-3 (31-29) the Cards need to finish 6-6 (28-30)
    Reds finish 5-4 (30-30) the Cards need to finish 5-7 (27-31)

    We need the Cards to lose more than they win and the Reds to win,win,win.