We are stuck in between that period between the Fourth of July and baseball’s midsummer classic, the All-Star Game. Right now is as good as time as any to talk about how our favorite team down on the banks of the Ohio River.
Everyone knew that this year’s edition of the Cincinnati Reds was going to be challenged. The 2016 edition hobbled across the proverbial finish line in early October with 94 losses, thirty five and a half games behind the division leading Chicago Cubs. Needless to say, the Reds had the worst record in the National League.
And while the team had some talent, it was hard to see how 2017 was going to be any better. The 2017 Reds were still going to be a young team and pitching was still going to be a major concern.
So half way through this 2017 season, what have we learned?
• This team is the epitome of “streaky”
The Reds started May on fire, winning 8 of the first 10 games that month. Then on May 12th, they lost a seventeen inning marathon against the Giants and couldn’t regain their footing. They ended up losing 9 of their next 11 games.
Then in the first week of June, the Reds took four straight games against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds were riding high. They then summarily went on to lose 13 of their next 14 games.
• Wanted: Starting Pitching
The Reds were hoping to have Home Bailey, Brandon Finnegan and Anthony DeSclafani ready to go in the starting rotation after getting back from Arizona for Spring Training. Well, the three men have combined for seven starts. That leaves a team with a struggling rotation in which thirteen different pitchers have started a game for the Reds this year. By any measure, that is a lot.
Looking to the second half of the year, Homer Bailey looks to be good enough to be back. But, journeymen hurlers Scott Feldman and Tim Adelman are anchoring the rotation. With the other starts being filled by the hot hand in the minors.
• Bronson Arroyo was a nice story
When he was signed to a minor league contract, a lot of folks thought that bringing Bronson Arroyo was a bit of a novelty. There was strong consensus that the wouldn’t make the team past Opening Day but his presence to young players would be a positive. Well, his forty year old arm went about as far as he could. Two years removed from the majors, he did end up winning three games, but in the process gave up nearly three home runs per game.
On Father’s Day, he freely admitted that he was probably done. Recognizing that his shoulder was turning into a pin cushion for cortisone shots and that those shots weren’t working, he realized it’s probably time to hang it up. He’s officially on the disabled list and perhaps he will make one more final start, but it’s been quite the career for Bronson.
• The Everyday Eight aren’t too bad
The eight position players the Reds put on the field every day are actually pretty good. Joey Votto, known mostly for his consistency, has turned into a legitimate power hitter. He has belted 24 home runs at the break. Zack Cozart is continuing the team’s tradition of great shortstop play and will start his first All-Star Game in Miami. Young players like Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler have combined for forty home runs. Even utility players like Scooter Gennett seem to have some pop in the bat.
Barring the unforeseen, the Reds aren’t going to challenge for the division this year (granted, they are only 8 ½ games back at this point), but the future is still bright. The young players that were brought in for trades the last couple years are producing. And even the younger players in the Minors are doing well. If you need proof, just look at the Dayton Dragons who are going back to the Midwest League Playoffs.
And while it’s nice to follow the Reds, we are still less than a month away from football! Thank goodness!
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.