The Cincinnati Reds are coming off of a 4-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the team, fans, and even mascots are feeling great. The sweep put the Reds 10 games over .500 for the first time since the 2013 season. That team would finish 92-70, but third in the National League Central and have to play in a wild card game. Cincinnati is currently in second place in the division, but outside of the playoffs as they trail the San Diego Padres by 2.5 games for that final spot.
Fangraphs updated playoff odds currently give the Reds a 36.1% chance of getting to the postseason. They have a 12.2% chance of winning the division and a 23.9% chance of taking one of the wild card spots. Fangraphs, which takes into account future projections as well as estimated playing time and depth charts, projects Cincinnati to finish 88-74 as things stand right now.
The Reds have been on a run lately. Since July 23rd they’ve gone out and 12-4. The schedule the rest of the season is the easiest in baseball if we look at the winning percentage of the teams left to play, but that isn’t the case in the immediate future. Tonight the Reds begin a week long road trip to face off against Cleveland, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. The Guardians we they are now known in my household, are 54-55. Both Philadelphia and Atlanta are over .500 as they battle for the top spot in the National League East (59-53 for Philadelphia, 57-55 for Atlanta).
After that the Reds aren’t scheduled to play anyone with a winning record again, except for a 3-game series with Milwaukee, until September 17th when the Dodgers come to Great American Ball Park.
Healthy, healthy, healthy
On paper the Cincinnati Reds didn’t look bad when they left Goodyear in spring training. There were some flawed areas, but the team looked solid. But the injuries began piling up rather quickly. Michael Lorenzen was initially expected to return in April but didn’t make it back for the first half. Mike Moustakas didn’t play until this week after injuring his heel in May. Joey Votto missed a month. Sonny Gray spent time on the injured list. Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims both have spent six weeks on the injured list. Nick Senzel hasn’t played in two months. All of those guys are now healthy and on the roster with the exception of Antone and Senzel, both of whom are rehabbing with Triple-A.
The bullpen getting healthy, along with the additions of Mychal Givens and Luis Cessa, is coming at the right time. Mike Petriello of MLB.com wrote about the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen today, noting that they have been in by far the fewest “high leverage” situations than any team in baseball by a wide margin since July 1st. The chart is quite something. But at the other end of the spectrum is the Cincinnati Reds, who have been in significantly more high leverage situations than any other bullpen over that same time frame.
OK, here was that stat. It’s not that the Toronto bullpen isn’t better now, it is. It’s that since July 1, the relievers just have had almost NO high-leverage PA to deal with (17). It helps when the lineup mashes and the rotation deals.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 9, 2021
If the team would just listen to Wade Miley and score 10 runs every game, the bullpen would probably face far fewer high leverage situations. Is that unreasonable to ask? Probably. But maybe they should give it a shot anyways.
As mentioned above, Tejay Antone and Nick Senzel are still on rehab assignments with Triple-A Louisville. But they aren’t the only ones. Infielder/reliever Alex Blandino, and reliever Michael Feliz are also with the Bats on rehab assignments. Louisville doesn’t play on Monday this season, so no one will be getting any game action tonight unless they are activated in Cincinnati – and that’s not expected.
Tejay Antone has only pitched in one game thus far. He pitched on Saturday and allowed an infield single, a line drive single, a walk, and an earned run in 0.2 innings where he hit 99 MPH twice and struck out two batters.
Nick Senzel has played in six games so far. Saturday was the first game, by design, that he played in center for the entire game. In the previous four games he was in the field (he was the DH for one game) he was replaced after a certain number of innings/at-bats. He’s come to the plate 20 times and has yet to strikeout, has walked twice, but has only three hits in 17 at-bats (.176) so far.
Alex Blandino has played in eight games so far on his rehab stint with the Bats. He’s gone 4-22 (.182) with two doubles, four walks, and three strikeouts in 28 plate appearances. He’s played first base, second base, and third base during his time with Louisville.
Michael Feliz is on his second rehab stint since he originally hit the injured list. He pitched in three games in early July with Louisville, but his arm wasn’t quite recovering as expected following the outings and he was hut down for two weeks from throwing in games. He returned to his rehab stint, though it’s been back-and-forth between Louisville, Dayton, and back to Louisville over the last two weeks. In those seven games he’s struggled, allowing eight runs in 7.2 innings. He’s walked just one batter and struck out 10 of the 36 hitters he’s faced.