The Cincinnati Reds have surpassed the San Diego Padres for the second Wild Card spot, with 38 games remaining. The Reds are picking up momentum at the perfect time, as their sights are set on the postseason. They hold a one-game lead over the Padres and sit 7.5 games back from the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central.
Wild Card Push for Cincinnati Reds
Catching the Brewers seems almost out of the question, with how great they have been playing. The Brewers are one of the best teams in baseball with a dominant pitching staff. Their ERA is 3.35, which is currently third in the MLB. Of their five All-Stars, four of them were pitchers. It’s hard to imagine pitching of that caliber falling off, and their remaining schedule is not too difficult. They will begin their final three-game series against each other on Tuesday, and the Reds would likely need to pull off a sweep if they want to compete for the division title.
The Wild Card spot is the Reds’ to lose at this point. They are 20-11 over their last 31 games, and their pitching has been dramatically better over the second half of the season. They have the second-easiest remaining schedule, while the Padres have the toughest remaining schedule in the MLB. The Padres are 2-9 over their last 11 and have 19 games remaining against the Dodgers and Giants.
Nick Castellanos is playing like the MVP candidate he was prior to his injury. Joey Votto continues to be the most dominant hitter in baseball since the All-Star break. He has 17 HRs and 41 RBIs in that span, which leads the MLB. The 37-year old is looking like his 2010 self when he won the NL MVP. The veterans have been stepping up in a huge way, but the rookies have been stealing the show with their contributions.
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Cincinnati Reds Rookies Continue to Shine
Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson and Vladimir Gutierrez have been playing like seasoned veterans. They have been massive additions to the team this year and have played a pivotal role in the Reds’ success. They give the organization and the fans hope beyond just this season as well.
India has completely changed the offense since he was inserted into the lead-off spot. He’s hitting .276 with 16 HRs and 56 RBIs, and is seventh in the MLB with a .387 OBP. He is on pace to win the NL Rookie of the Year and as one of the best players on a playoff team, his future is bright.
Meanwhile, Stephenson has the best batting average in the NL for a rookie, at .290. Tucker Barnhart and Stephenson split time, but when Stephenson becomes the full-time starter, the sky is the limit. He has nine HRs and 40 RBIs in only 269 at bats, and he will only continue to grow with more plate appearances.
Gutierrez seems to have turned the corner and has been dominant in his five starts in August. He has pitched at least six innings in each start, with 31 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. He has a 1.67 ERA in those starts and has picked up four wins in the process.
The Cincinnati Reds are getting production from every position, except third base. Eugenio Suarez is batting .171 and has been a disaster all season long. Mike Moustakas returned from injury but has not been able to find a rhythm, as he is 5-39 since his return. The Reds called up one of their top prospects in Jose Barrero, who has the potential to slide over to third. He’s 2-9 in his limited opportunities thus far, but he should be in the Reds lineup every day. The Reds can’t afford to let Moustakas or Suarez attempt to figure it out with how important every game is at this point.
Cincinnati is in a prime position to land the second Wild Card spot and get back to the postseason. After last year’s playoff performance, where they lost both games to the Braves and failed to score a single run, the Reds should have all the motivation they need to finish the season on a tear.