Last night’s win over the Chicago White Sox was huge for the Cincinnati Reds. Facing off against the team in the American League with the best record, Cincinnati’s offense went off and put up seven runs and took a 7-1 win. That brought the Reds to .500, with a 26-26 record.

Winning always helps a team’s playoff odds. Cincinnati entered the night in second place by themselves, but when the night ended they weren’t alone because the St. Louis Cardinals swept a double header to pull even with the Reds. The Cardinals own the tie breaker with the Reds, too – so Cincinnati will have to finish with a better record in order to get the nod. For the time being, given the tiebreaker, despite the win, the Reds fell from the #6 seed to the #8 seed. At 26-26 they are ahead of the 25-25 San Fransisco Giants by a tiebreaker of their own (divisional record). The Reds are a game ahead of the Brewers in both the division and the wild card race.

Entering Saturday, Fangraphs gives the Cincinnati Reds a 62.1% chance of reaching the playoffs and a 3.3% chance of winning the World Series (12th highest odds). Baseball Reference gives the Reds a 55.9% chance of reaching the playoffs, but just a 0.4% chance of winning the World Series.

Tonight’s match up between Trevor Bauer and Dallas Keuchel is huge for Cincinnati. A win will get them over .500, and it will earn them a series win. Both things put them one step closer to the playoffs, but in a match up that features two Cy Young contenders, it’s not going to be a walk in the park.

The Reds don’t quite control their own destiny. If they were to win out, they’d finish 34-26. But if several other teams also were to win out – and that’s possible in theory, the Reds could still be on the outside looking in. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would win out, though. The tiebreaker for the divisional teams goes to head-to-head records. With no games remaining against St. Louis, the Reds lose any tiebreaker to them. The Reds are currently 4-3 against the Brewers and they have three games remaining against them, so that one is yet to be determined – but the Reds are currently a game up on the Brewers.

With a potential wild card spot, the tiebreaker first goes to the record of the teams in their own division. Cincinnati is currently 19-17 against the National League Central with three games remaining. They are battling with the Marlins, Phillies, and Giants for the wild card spots outside of the division. But if there’s a tie for the wild card spot that involves multiple teams and they aren’t all from the same division, then any head to head match up records go out of the window and it defaults back to intradivision records. Here’s how that stacks up, currently:

Team dWins dLosses W%
Phillies 20 16 .556
Marlins 18 15 .545
Reds 19 17 .528
Cardinals 17 16 .515
Brewers 16 16 .500
Giants 15 17 .469

All of a sudden those three games coming up against Milwaukee hold a little more importance than just outright wins. They may be even more valuable in case of a tiebreaker scenario for a wild card position. Finishing second in the division takes away a lot of the “what if” scenarios, and it’s the best path. But if things come down to a wild card spot, the three games against the Brewers are enormous.

This has been updated to reflect better math.

31 Responses

  1. Jack

    Things are pretty dicey. They could win out and be assured the 2nd wild card, all other scenarios require other teams lose more games than them. I don’t think they can afford to lose more than 3 of those games and only 1 to the Brewers but it should be exciting.

  2. RedNat

    Just based on strength of schedule i would say the reds chances of making it in are slim. It is going to be hard to keep up with the cardinals. Man you would like to have some fans in the stadium for these last home games. Could give the players the added energy they need to win.

  3. Jerry Meeker

    They’re finally jelling together as a team. Getting great pitching and timely hitting. Votto on fire since his benching by Bell. Go redlegs!!!

  4. RedBaron

    Sucks that the Cardinals and Phillies won 2 games yesterday and the Brewers Won as well. OTW our chances would have been higher after last night.

  5. Charlie Waffles

    Fantastic article over at MLBTR on Trevor Bauer and his free agency plans. He was on MLB Network radio yesterday. Seems to be softening his stance on only considering 1 year deals. The criteria he lists on what he will look for in teams has the Reds in a good position. Pitching every 4 days was mentioned much more than once. It will be interesting to see if the Reds do that with Bauer these last games here. He is going today, so we should pay attention to see if he goes next on 3 days rest.

    • Wayne Nabors

      He also said he wanted to go with a team that had a winning culture,thats doesn’t fit the reds at all

      • Charlie Waffles

        But he also said that pitching for such a storied franchise as the Reds that has never had a CYA winner and to be the first pitcher to do that would have tremendous meaning to him. I think if the Reds offer him a 3 year $90MM deal he just might take it. I think Bauer and his performace would live up to such a deal.

  6. HoF-13

    I think the Reds definitely should plan on Bauer going every 4 days unless he thinks it isn’t a good idea. For the team, even on short rest he’s probably better than anyone but Gray and Castillo. For him personally, it can solidify/improve his chances for a Cy Young. It might also help the Reds sign him for the future. I don’t see any downside as long as he (and pitching coach) think it is reasonable.;

  7. Don

    It is great for the Reds to be in it with 8 games left. It is a shame they need teams with really poor (Royals, Pirates and Nationals) records to beat the teams (Brewers, Cards and Phillies) which they need to lose games to solidify the Reds position.

    All the Reds can do is win as many of the 8 left as possible and hope others lose more than the Reds do.

    Looking at the Reds Magic numbers
    2nd in division
    Cards = 11
    Brewers = 11
    Philles = 9
    Marlins = 9
    Giants = 10

    They still need help, I do not want to 2nd guess Doug but I do not see how the Reds control their own destiny even winning all 8 as their Magic numbers are all 8 or more.

    • Moses

      While it’s true that the Reds may not entirely control their own destiny (I’ve not crunched all the numbers), I think it’s fair to say that if they win the rest of their games and finish 34-26, they’re playing October baseball. Mark Doug’s words on that! I think 32-28 should easily do the trick, but it’s mathematically possible that it won’t…

    • Doug Gray

      If the Reds win out they finish 34-26. If the Cardinals win out, they get the 2nd place spot, meaning the Reds then have to fight for the wild card. That leaves the Phillies, Marlins, and Giants. But the Phillies or Marlins are getting 2nd place in the East. They don’t play each other, so in theory they could both win out and wind up ahead of the Reds. The Giants could win out and go 35-25. That could put them ahead of the Padres, who in this scenario would lose at least four games moving forward because they play four times and the Padres only have 33 wins currently.

      So you are correct and I was wrong. Not sure where my math was wrong when I was writing – I’ll guess I counted the number of games remaining for the Giants incorrectly – which would have given them a 34-26 best possible record, tying them with a “win out” Reds. Double checking now, that would mean both teams would also have the same intradivisional record. That next tiebreaker is the winning percentage of the most recent 20 divisional games. Assuming both teams would have won out there, the Reds would be 13-7 and the Giants would be 14-6. Gross.

      It’s highly unlikely anyone wins out, of course. Now to go correct the post.

      • Don

        I cannot take any of the credit for the math, the website playoffmagic has all the magic number for every team vs every other team.

        The site does have the Reds in 6th and Cards in 8th for the head to head tie breaker so it is not 100% accurate but the Magic numbers look to be very accurate.

        Found the site the other day.

      • Don

        I also agree the possibility of all these teams winning out is about the same as me winning the Power ball lottery the next 3 times before the end of the season.

        Reds need to win as many as they can and get help.

      • Doug Gray

        I’ll just put it out there, Don: I hope you win the powerball lottery 3 times before next season.

      • Don

        If I will all three, I will donate one on them to redlegnation, so fingers crossed

    • jim walker

      Brewers and Cards close out the season with 5 consecutive games against each other. These could end up being as important to the Reds as their own games, assuming the Reds can at win at least 2 of their remaining series (counting the current one) and not get swept in any of them.

      Giants have 10 games remaining, 2 with the A’s and their final 4 versus the Padres sandwiching 4 with the Rockies. I don’t think they get any more than 5 wins out of these.

      I like the Reds chances of being in one way or another if they go 6-3 in these final three series. They’ve already got the 1 win from Friday, So, 5-3 the rest of the way should get them there. One caveat is that the Reds need to make sure they keep the Brew Crew behind them even more than that getting ahead of the Cards.

  8. ClevelandRedsFan

    I have to believe 32-28 is a lock and 31-29 is a strong chance.

    To get to 32-28, Reds need to go 6-2 over the final 8 games. That likely means sweeping either the White Sox or Brewers and taking 2-3 from the Twins. That’s tough.

    To get to 31-29, Reds need to go 5-3 over the final 8 games. That seems really do-able.
    Split next two with White Sox
    2 out of 3 from Brewers
    2out of 3 from Twins

    Our best hope is that the Twins seed is mostly decided for either all or some of the final 3 games with the Reds. That means optimizing their lineup/rotation for the playoffs will be more important than beating the Reds. Twins might try to shuffle their rotation or rest key guys to get ready for the playoffs.

    I love the Reds chances tonight with Bauer on the mound and Keuchel in his first start back. I have absolutely zero information to base this on, but I wonder if the plan for Keuchel tonight will be more about getting him ready to pitch in the postseason than winning the game. That might mean 3-4 innings and throwing all of his pitches.

    Bring on the righties.

    Also, how fun is this? I mean c’mon! We’re scoreboard watching in September and the Reds have a chance at the playoffs. The pitching has dominated the last week and hitters are finally getting healthy. It’s time for Suarez to be Suarez again.

    • jim walker

      Agree. And how is that some people getting into the chase now are also talking about putting the genie immediately back into the bottle next year by returning to the 10 team playoff setup with a single game play in wildcard “series”?

      One of the reasons the NHL is slowly but surely winning the top spot as my professional sports favorite is that the local team is in the playoff running every season. Who cares if the bar is set half way down the list versus a third of the way? Playoff series seeding largely takes care of that in short order; and when it doesn’t, that becomes an even bigger and more exciting story to follow.

      Maybe a 16 team playoff is a bit rich for baseball; but how about at least 12 teams MLB wide (6 per “league”). This could be either all three divisional 2nd place teams with no wildcards or 3 wildcards per league.

      Seed the top 2 divisional winners in each league into the second round and have the remaining 4 teams play a best of 3 series at the home site of the team with the best record. From there it would work just like now, a best of 5 divisional round followed by the best of 7 league championship round.

      The seeded teams in the divisional series would have home field advantage and be fully rested. The advancing first round winners would have blown through 2 or 3 of their top starting pitchers and presumably have a well worn bullpen. If this isn’t fair enough advantage for having one of the best 2 regular season records in the league, what is?

      • Kevin Davis


        I like your “math” on how a 12 team playoff would work. I have been trying to come up with a way for this. This goes back to an email I sent Lance M. a month or so ago – along with a 12 team playoff, a total restructuring of baseball – 3 10 team divisions – 81 games against your division and then 60 games against the other 2 divisions (6 games against 5 teams in the division). I know people would not go for that but it would shorten the regular season by about 24 days (given elimination of some off days). Would allow then for a slightly longer playoff season and still finish before November.

      • jim walker

        I’ve got no gripe with shortening the regular season. However I would doubt it would go below the 154 game level it was for many years prior to expansion in the 1960’s.

        We all know whether anything like this can happen comes down to $$$. Can the owners get TV to pony up enough money for additional playoff games to offset what is lost by dropping games in the regular season? Then can they agree among themselves how to divide TV take and agree with the players on their cut?

  9. vegastypo

    I’ve kinda got my eye on the White Sox and Twins race in the AL Central, also. If the Twins are settled in as the second-place team in that division by the time they play the Reds, the Twins might want to rest a few guys — and certainly their pitchers — to get ready for the first round.

    Reds beat the White Sox on Friday, and the Twins weren’t able to gain ground because they lost to the Cubs, so the Twins are still down in that race by three games.

  10. Kevin Patrick

    Nobody wants to say it…but what will likely determine the Reds getting into the playoffs will be when, if and how Sonny Gray plays. If he’s back and looking sharp, I like their chances. Same with Senzel…they need to be sharp right now.

  11. Mark Moore

    Today and for much of the rest of the year, we are Schrödinger’s Reds. We’re both in and out of the playoffs at the same time until one or the other happens.

    Way more fun than any of us thought likely (if not possible) a week ago.

    • seadog

      Could not agree more. Way more fun to be watching. It is a coin flip right now whether they get in. As stated above they need Gray.
      Our scoreboard watching has turned into analytics—Lol.

    • KenRedsfan

      thank you for bringing Schrödinger into the discussion! Baseball playoff scenarios without metaphysics is like a ball game without fans…

  12. Rob

    No question the games against the Brewers are the most important. Given this, it surprised me a bit why we didn’t start Bauer on short rest on Friday against the White Sox and then regular rest against the Brewers.??? The last game against the Brewers is going to be huge unless we win the first 2!!!! Personally, I would have just preferred a rested Bauer against the Brewers vs the other options of a partially rested Bauer or Mahle. But too late now. Wonder why Bell didn’t go this route?
    Also will be interesting where Gray and Miley fit in this puzzle. I would assume Gray goes Tuesday against the Brewers and possibly Sunday depending on where we stand. And Miley. Bullpen piece or possible Friday starter vs the Twins?

  13. Rob

    I think 5-3 will be fine as long as we grab 2 vs the Brew Crew. Doesn’t that mean the Brewers absolute best case then is 32 wins? And 1 more loss is 31 wins with the 2nd place tie breaker going our way. But 5-3 takes continued strong play. 4-4 may even be enough but again probably mandatory that includes 2 from the Brewers. That should tilt the tie breakers our way vs the Giants and Brewers. Not a sure thing but a reasonably good shot assuming the Pads don’t lay down for the Giants.
    Great that the Reds have put us in position to talk about this junk.