Reds at 50 (well, 48)
- Updated: June 4, 2009
The Reds sit at 26-22 on the last day of May, just 2.5 games out of first place. This should be a familiar record for the Reds this season. With their brand of strong starting pitching, team speed, and improved defense, this team will be between three and seven games over .500 for most of the season. The big question will be how they handle the pressure of September. Trading away Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey, Jr. was necessary for this team to create it’s own identity, shifting away from two ‘stars’ that simply did not want that leadership role.
This season, the Reds have a manager in Dusty Baker (proven winner) and a GM Walt Jocketty (2006 World Series to his credit) that both know how to win, and know how to put the right pieces together. As Herb Brooks famously said before the 1980 Olympics…It’s not about the best players, it’s about the right ones.
The Reds still have their issues: no consistent right-handed power threat in the lineup (although Jonny Gomes can provide pop off the bench), Jay Bruce failing to make adjustments since his hot start last season, and what the hell is wrong with Joey Votto?
That all being said, the Reds have held their own with patchwork lineups because of a rock solid 1-4 pitching rotation and Micah Owings consistently giving the team five innings and five earned runs, which at least gives them a fighting chance.
Outside of Jared Burton and Mike Lincoln (who have been train wrecks this season), the bullpen has been fantastic. Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers have given up just six earned runs between them and Francisco Cordero is 13 for 13 in save opportunities.
The most notable ‘under the radar’ performance this year comes from Nick Masset, who is 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched. Not bad for someone that was an afterthought in the Ken Griffey, Jr. trade last season.
The Reds need to get their stars healthy (Phillips and Votto) and need to continue to get strong performances from their bullpen. If that happens, the Reds will be right in the thick of the playoff hunt when September rolls around. Their starting pitching is just too good for it not to happen.
The real question is whether the team can reel off 20 wins in September to seal the deal.