The Cincinnati Reds hit the road this week for series in Pittsburgh and Colorado. It’s never easy to win on the road in Major League Baseball – the old adage is just finish .500 on the road and take care of your business at home and you’ll find yourself in the playoffs. Still, sometimes you need to take care of business on the road, too. And right now the Pirates and Rockies own two of the three worst records in the National League.

Pittsburgh is up first for the Reds and they begin a 3-game series tonight. The Pirates are 14-19 and have the worst OPS and OPS+ in the league. They are hitting .228/.305/.346 as a team. Their 22 home runs is HALF of what the Cincinnati Reds have, and the Reds are only third in the National League in home runs. The Pirates pitching has been league average when it comes to allowing runs. Their 4.24 ERA translates to a 98 ERA+ on the season. You play the games for a reason, particularly in baseball where even the best teams lose 60+ times a year, but on paper, the Reds should have an advantage in the series against the Pirates.

After that the team will head out to Colorado. While Coors Field has been using the humidor forever, and the baseball is actually hurting offensive output this season, it’s still Coors Field and you never really know what’s going to happen. With that said, the Rockies pitching staff hasn’t been good. They walk a lot of hitters and they have the lowest strikeout rate in the National League. If you are allowing guys to make contact in Coors – well, that’s a bad plan most of the time. The Rockies hitters aren’t exactly doing much to help out the pitching either. Their .702 OPS translates into an OPS+ of just 85, which is only better than the Pirates and Brewers this season so far. Much like the series against the Pirates, the Reds should have an advantage against the Rockies.

Cincinnati is currently in 4th place in the National League Central at 15-16. They are four games back of the Cardinals, two back of the Brewers, and a half game behind the Cubs. A strong week of winning against two of the worst teams in the league could go a long way to getting things rolling in the right direction again and perhaps climbing the division ladder before returning home for a 7-game stand against the Giants and Brewers next week.

37 Responses

  1. SteveLV

    Seems like a pretty important week for one so early in the year as the opposite could also be true – a bad week would be a real set-back. Only get so many chances to play bad teams. Have to take advantage of them.

  2. Klugo

    Personally, I think Bell and the Reds have done an impressive job of getting themselves where they are. Between the injuries to Shogo, Lorenzen, and Votto, all the shuffling in the infield trying to make something work at SS, and then the patchwork pitching staff, it’s remarkable we have the record we have, IMO.
    If Hoffman and Castillo can get into a rhythm, maybe the team can hit a stride. Won’t be easy though with the INF being such a mess while Votto is out.

    • AllTheHype

      The Reds are where they are in spite of Bell, not because of him. They would surely have a better record if he would optimize the lineup and bullpen from an analytical standpoint. Putting MLB’s 3rd worst offensive player (per fangraphs min 350 PAs from 2020) exclusively in the middle of the lineup sure extinguishes many offensive threats.
      Reds have made many good hires in the last decade. Manager has never been one of them.

      • RojoBenjy

        My sentiment lies with you, Hype—regardless of data, should a detractor produce some. Bell fails the eye test, the feel test, and most of all the results test.

        This year there is talent performing well and he can’t give the squad the X factor needed to optimize it. He hasn’t shown that he knows how to reduce the impact of the poor performers either.

      • Max BRAGG

        I agree middle of lineup could be dropped till he starts to hit more consistently.

    • Klugo

      Nick Krall hamstrung this team by not getting a SS, any SS. Ownership hamstrung this team by not spending on relievers. I dont know that the SS situation wont hamstring them all year long. There may be some (some) reinforcements for the bullpen eventually. I dont have much of a problem with the way Bell has played this team to this point. Yeah, he could be moving Saurez down the lineup, but that’s not had the effect the above two F-ups have had. And the guys have played hard.

      • AllTheHype

        I’ll certainly agree with the SS point, but Bell must manage what he is given and he just doesn’t, effectively.

      • Doc

        And how do you know it was Nick Krall? If my boss says ‘no’ to needed funds, I cannot hire a person no matter how badly I need him. How do you know the money was there and Krall didn’t get it done? How do you know that Krall didn’t have competitive offers out there but the players did not accept? It takes two to make a deal.

      • Klugo

        Any SS would’ve done really. I mean a good one would’ve been better and yes, more expensive. But the SS situation we have going on now is a debacle and it’s a distraction. A GMs job is not to just show money. If there is even remotely competitive resources, then the GM can show some creativity and persuasiveness. I see none of that from Krall. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they cut from the bullpen to try to get a SS. Good idea, but the GM didn’t come through.

      • greenmtred

        I recall reading–probably here at RLN–that batting order is not especially important. We’ve always been bitterly critical of Reds’ managers: when the team loses (never mind the pitchers pitching poorly and the hitters not hitting) it’s the manager’s fault. When the team wins, it’s in spite of the manager. Logic doesn’t enter in to it. I imagine most fan bases do the same, though.

  3. Bred

    Is it hype because it is too early to say it is now or never for the Reds to make a move? They are only 2 back in the loss column, but 6 back in the W column. Recent history indicates this is a critical stretch for them. They need to win series or the ladder will be too steep to climb.

    • Doc

      Teams have come from 10 games behind in the last two weeks of the season. Much can happen over 162 games, especially for a team that has so many players unavailable and/or underperforming. Four fifths of the season remains to be played. The Reds came back in a 60 game season; no reason they can’t come back in a 162 game season, especially given how much of the season is left.

  4. RojoBenjy

    Great photo Doug. I don’t like the Pirates and I loathe the stealers “footbaw“ team, but the city of Pittsburgh has a lot of things to love about it. One of the best is PNC Park with its beautiful views and closeup feel

    • TR

      Pittsburgh does have a lot going for it these days, certainly compared to the 1950’s when approaching the city thru the tunnel usually revealed a thick haze over The Point and Downtown. The Burgh, thanks to the steel-making plants on the Monongahela River, was known as the ‘Smoky City.’

  5. Indy Red Man

    Is Suarez ever going to be even an average hitter again? I’ve been trying to think of someone that fit this pattern, but its not easy. Dan Uggla had a career high .877 ops at 30, but hit .179 at 33 and his career was basically over. Uggla’s career had more of a normal ebb/flow to it.

    Zach Cozart had a .568 ops in 2014 at age 29. If I remember correctly he was the 2nd worst hitter in the NL (or mlb?) that year. He rebounded somewhat, but he was obviously never a slugger like Suarez.

    If the Reds are going to contend then they need something from Suarez. They could possibly get around Castillo’s struggles, but they don’t have enough offense without Suarez. I’d bat him 7th so he’s no longer destroying innings when Winker/Castellanos are getting on regularly.

    • AllTheHype

      Chris Davis, Javier Baez (current parallel track with Suarez), and Uggla are certainly comparables on some level.

      • AllTheHype

        Baez has bounced back some and not nearly as bad as Suarez.

  6. Mark Moore

    I’d go so far as to say we’d BETTER make a move over the next 7 games. The realist in me isn’t all that optimistic until I see more consistent hitting or a move that somehow “jars” Geno into changing his approach for the better.

    I’m more than a little nervous about covering the cavern that is Coor’s Field OF … but we’ll manage and that does play both ways (if we’re hitting).

  7. Rednat

    I agree with All the statements above except ROJOBENJY. I CAN’T think of one thing i love about Pittsburgh lol.

    yes, we need Suarez to produce if we have any chance to make the playoffs. no, he does not need to be in the 5 hole right now. i would take my chances with Naquin as my 5 hole hitter for now.

    i definitely agree with Klugo. no production from Castillo, Garret, Suarez, Shogo and lorenzen… and still only 1 game back…. not to shabby

    • RojoBenjy

      LOL not a hill I would die on for sure!

  8. old-school

    First order of business is to win this series over Pittsburgh and get over .500 for the year. That has been a Herculean task for the Reds for 7 years.

    Best way to win a series is win game 1.

    Best way to win Game 1 is get strong starting pitching from Mahle and put some runs on the board early.

    Go Reds.

  9. RojoBenjy

    Lineup released.

    Suárez batting 6th and at 3B. One or two slots too high still but at least it’s not top 5

    The Farmer at SS. I can live with it

    Senzel 2B and leading off (love this)

    Naquin in CF batting 5th

    Shogo Akiyama was a really expensive bench player. I hope he gets more PT this series. I imagine his Japanese fans are not happy

    • indyDoug

      If they weren’t going to play him everyday, why not leave him at Louisville to get his timing back and play everyday? Seems short sided and I know Nyquin has been hitting well but still…

    • MBS

      I’m really disappointed in Farmer being an everyday player. The Reds might as well throw in the towel. Suarez at SS was not good, but at least there is the chance his bat comes back. Farmer never had one, and is not a glove first SS either. So it’s a lose, lose. If we are going to have a questionable bat at SS, bring Rodriguez up please! No sense having a guy like Farmer in there everyday.

      • RojoBenjy

        If it goes on like this for the rest of the week then I think your feelings are justified.

        What self-respecting MLB club would go on like this for a week though?

        Ok before people say it’s too early and relax, remember I DID say for the rest of the week LOL

    • Max BRAGG

      Shogo has been a REAL disappointment, he acts like he SCARED to swing the bat.

  10. Jim Walker

    I like the Reds current position. As noted already above, they are in a good situation visa via the column, ahead of the Cubs, tied with the Brewers and only -2 vs the Cards but the Reds also have 4 games in hand to the Cards; 2-2 over those 4 games gets the Reds even there.

    Just win every series and things will turn out OK.

    • Jim Walker

      oops, my mind thought but my fingers did not type “loss” column above….
      As noted already above, they are in a good situation visa via the LOSS column , ahead of the Cubs, tied with the Brewers and only -2 vs the Cards but the Reds also have 4 games in hand to the Cards; 2-2 over those 4 games gets the Reds even there.

      • Doc

        If the Reds go 2-2 over the four games, then they are 4 behind in the loss column, not even. If they go 4-0, they are still 2 behind in the loss column, unless the Cardinals lose two more.

  11. LDS

    I’m not optimistic about this road trip at all. The Reds aren’t hitting particularly well. Suarez should be on the bench. Farmer is still the starting shortstop. The bullpen has been shaky to say the least. And many of us question Bell’s ability to manage effectively. So, could a miracle occur and the Reds win on the road? Possibly, but I’m not willing to bet on it.

    • MBS

      India and Blandino? SS and 3B. I agree with Farmer shouldn’t be a starter, not so with Suarez. I’m ok with a come to Jesus benching. But that’s a 2 or 3 game move, not a directional move for the season.

      P.S. I am not as optimistic as I normally am either. Hopefully they win despite the obvious holes our team has right now.

      • LDS

        India should be playing or sent down. Never had expectations of Blandino nor Farmer for that matter. Don’t want to handicap his development but Garcia would hit as well as Suarez and field better. And Rodriguez is certainly an option. The biggest impact would be a new manager and sadly that’s not happening

  12. DataDumpster

    I will be illuminating to see what happens in the next 4 weeks (only one off day, I think). Then, we might find out if David Bell has any other strategy except “trust it” (whatever IT is). Bell has a unique talent for playing people way past the point where its obvious to the casual fan that someone else needs a chance. Conversely, we seem to discard players who go on to much greater heights elsewhere.
    We had a good shortstop (Iglesias) and let him go for what? Finally, don’t look now but the 3 pitchers let go from the David Bell era (Desclafani, Wood and Gausman) to San Francisco are having a bang up season combined thus far at 8-1 with 26 ER allowed in 109 innings (2.15 ERA). We did we get for all those pitchers? Well, um, David Bell, sort of.

    • RojoBenjy

      Re: the former Reds pitching in SF

      What are their home/road splits? SF plays in the Grand Canyon, which could explain why they do better away from Great American Small Park.

      Also one other point- it’s the GM that is responsible choosing Galvis over Iglesias last season, and not re-signing the pitchers. Of course there could have been input from DB…

    • VaRedsFan

      Iggy was a free agent….he was free to sign with whoever he wanted. Galvis was under contract, so Iggy decided to move on, because the Reds weren’t going to pay for 2 people to play the same position.

  13. TR

    My hope is the Reds do not take the Pirates and Rockies lightly. Defeats from poor teams count the same as those from good ones. All things considered, the Reds are not in a bad position playing .500 ball at this point in the season considering Votto’s injury and the disfunction of key players. Just win these two series.

  14. Roger Garrett

    I was a big fan at just putting Garcia at short to start opening day.That was never going to happen but I was glad when India played well enough to start at second.Suarez moving to short obviously helped that happen but now it appears it had nothing to do with India but it was all about Suarez.Now Eugenio is back to third,Farmer at short the 3rd straight game and India is well what now.All after 30 games.Of course now is the topic of our team being so versatile and willing to move around and play wherever is needed.Its all smoke and mirrors.Please just send India down.Let Farmer play short and Senzel at second and platoon Naquin and Shogo.Lets move on and lets stop jerking India and Senzel around.I have no problem with Eugenio and Farmer playing every day regardless of how they do.Can the Reds climb the standings this week?We are more concerned with auditioning another player at short and he isn’t even a young player?All of this because Joey fractured is thumb to me is just short sighted but really not surprising.