The Cincinnati Reds made it abundantly clear at the MLB Trade Deadline that they were attempting to make the playoffs. They acquired three relievers to aid their MLB-worst bullpen, and Cincinnati is expecting key players to make their return from injury extremely soon. The biggest roadblock the Reds are facing is chasing the star-studded Brewers and Padres.
The Reds are currently seven games behind the Brewers for first place in the NL Central. Catching them seems almost out of reach at this point, with 56 games remaining. The Brewers pitching staff is too dominant for them to fall off completely, and they are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. They are 10-4 since the All-Star break and have a three-game series with the last place Pirates on the horizon.
The Cincinnari Reds should have their sights set on catching the Padres for the second Wild Card spot. The Padres are 8-7 since the All-Star break and hold a four-game lead over the Reds for that Wild Card spot. They also just suffered a devastating blow to their superstar shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr. He injured his shoulder for the third time this season and was placed on the 10-day IL. The Padres fear it could require season-ending surgery, if it does not heal properly over the next couple weeks. This will be a major loss for the Padres and could hurt their playoff chances immensely.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Reds have a 26% chance to make the playoffs and a 9% chance to win the division. Their playoff hopes are contingent on finishing the season on an absolute tear. They must play with urgency every game, and luckily they have one of the easiest remaining schedules in baseball. The Reds have 19 of their next 20 games against teams with a losing record. They must take full advantage of this and not worry about what other teams are doing, focusing on what they can control.
Cincinnati Reds Resurgence
The Reds had the NL’s best record in July, at 17-10. They upgraded their bullpen dramatically and are gaining momentum at the right time. Even when it seemed like they were trending in the wrong direction after their best hitter, Nick Castellanos, injured his wrist, they have responded. With Castellanos sidelined, Joey Votto went on the most historic run in Reds history. Votto homered in seven consecutive games, which had never been done in Reds history, with nine total home runs in that span. He was one game shy of tying the all-time MLB record, with eight consecutive games with a home run.
Reds rookie, Jonathan India, continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year, and is posting the fifth best OBP in the MLB, at .401. Shortstop was also a major question, after the injuries to Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel, which forced lots of movement in the infield. Kyler Farmer has erased any doubt at shortstop and is batting .343 over the last 30 games and .426 over the last 15. Farmer is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, moving into third in the batting order, right in front of Votto and behind Jesse Winker.
The next man up mentality has been evident all season long in Cincinnati. They have had key pitchers and hitters in and out of the lineup, and have had huge performances from rookies along the way. These injuries have allowed for other players to shine, but it seems that help is on the way as the team is finally getting healthy.
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Players Returning From Injury
The Reds improved the bullpen with their trades before the deadline, but they will be getting even more reinforcement with the return of Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone. Those are likely the two best relievers on the roster, and they both should be back over the next two weeks.
Moustakas and Senzel began their rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on July 30th, so their return is coming as well. Castellanos is the biggest question, and the Reds offense will be elite when he returns. He could resume baseball activities as soon as August 3rd, but it is up in the air when he will begin his rehab assignment.
It is unlikely the team will ever be fully healthy, considering how injuries are such a critical part of baseball, but this has allowed so many other players to show their talents. The Reds have an uphill battle to reach the postseason, but they have the team to continue their winning ways to finish the season. They will need some lucky breaks to go their way, and for the Padres and Brewers to struggle in the latter part of the season, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Reds can get back to the playoffs.