The Cincinnati Reds future seemed bleak just three weeks ago. They had a myriad of injuries to key positional players, and some of their proven starters were struggling mightily. The script has been flipped in the Queen City, and the Reds are on a tear.
The Reds are 35-31 and two games back from first place in the NL Central. They have won six games in a row and have won 13 of their last 16 games. The Reds starting pitching has been dominant, and Luis Castillo has finally found his rhythm, after an awful start to the season. The bullpen was a major question mark going into the season. They were inconsistent to begin the year, but they have been lights out during the win streak, even with RP Tejay Antone going down with a right forearm injury on June 11.
The offense continues to deliver clutch and timely hits as they are slowly getting back to full strength. The Reds are currently sixth in runs scored in the MLB, and are still awaiting the return of Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel. Joey Votto looks healthy again. Over his last nine games since he returned from his injury, he has three HRs and 12 RBIs.
Cincinnati Reds are Red Hot
The Reds offense is led by two of the best hitters in all of baseball. Outfielders Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker continue to light up opposing pitchers on a nightly basis. They are both the leading vote-getters at their positions for the All-Star game in the National League, and it’s not even close. Castellanos has 568,758 votes to 195,950 for Juan Soto, who sits in second place, while Winker has 462,629 votes to 185,612 for Chris Taylor, who’s in second place.
Castellanos leads the MLB with 86 hits and a .350 batting average, and is tied for the lead with 37 extra base hits. He has 13 HRs and 37 RBIs to go along with his staggering hit numbers. Great American Ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league, and Castellanos thrives at home. In 114 at bats, he has 10 HRs, 27 RBIs and a .412 batting average. That could potentially play a major role in keeping Castellanos in Cincinnati long term.
Winker is third in the MLB with a .343 batting average, and sits at third in the NL with 17 HRs, which also leads the Reds. He has 41 RBIs and leads the team with 26 walks. Winker is arguably the most clutch hitter on the roster, and one of the most clutch hitters in the MLB, with a .340 batting average with runners in scoring position.
If the Reds continue their winning ways, both outfielders will be legitimate MVP candidates at the conclusion of the season. If they continue their production, and the pitching keeps improving, the Reds will undoubtedly be in the playoff hunt.
There is a silver lining in all of the injuries the Reds endured. In the absence of SPs Sonny Gray and Jeff Hoffman, the Reds were forced to turn to a couple of rookies. Vladimir Gutierrez is only 25 years old and has surpassed all expectations through his first four starts. In 23 innings, he has only allowed 15 hits, walked 10 batters and has 19 strikeouts. He is 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA, and has proved he belongs in the big leagues. 24-year old Tony Santillan was called up and showed great poise in his first career start. He went 4.2 innings, allowed only one run and five hits and struck out five batters. He has the potential to get much better as he gets more comfortable.
When Votto went down with an injury, rookie catcher Tyler Stephenson stepped in at first base and showed his versatility. In 137 at bats, he has a .266 batting average and a .376 OBP, and he proved to David Bell that he needs to be in the lineup on a regular basis.
Infielder Jonathan India continues to deliver as the leadoff hitter and has shown how talented he is at every aspect of the game. He has a .253 batting average, five HRs and 27 RBIs, and his fielding and speed make him a terrific all-around player. India improves dramatically every time he steps on the field, and he should be a cornerstone of the Reds franchise for years to come.
One of the Reds top prospects, SP Hunter Greene, was moved up to Triple-A to join the Louisville Bats. He is getting close to making his highly anticipated major league debut,. With all of the young talent that the Reds have in place, the future is bright.