There is one thing you can admit about this Reds team, they have heart. After a truly disappointing start to the season and after a 3-8 start in the month of June, they have soared back. The Reds stretched out a 6 game winning streaking, including giving the Astros their first series loss of the year (they also lost to the Yankees last weekend). The Reds became what everyone expected them to…a legitimate threat in the National League. With all their talent and with Scooter nearing a return, the Reds could easily soar above .500 in the next few weeks.
Over the past week, the Reds have won a series against the Astros, the AL West leaders, and split a series with the Brewers in Milwaukee. Over those games, the Reds finally pieced together an all around game with pitching being outstanding and attacking the ball early on the offensive end. They scored in the first inning in most of those games, including all three against the Astros. It came behind the strength of Puig, the clutchness of Winker, and the absolute gem from Tyler Mahle who had his first ever 7 inning apparence. This is the team the Reds could be, the team that attacks and scores often while having an amazing pitching staff. They are finally piecing it together, but what happens when Scooter returns?
The Reds are still 24th in offense, 3rd in pitching, and currently sit 4th on the defensive end. Scooter definitely will help the offensive side, as he led the team in almost every category last season. Scooter coming back brings a very crowded infield and leaves Bell with a tough decision to make. With Dietrich, Iglesias, Peraza, Suarez, Farmer, and Votto, adding Scooter makes it messy. I think it is easy. Scooter at 2nd, Votto at 1st, Suarez at 3rd, and Iglesias at SS. Mix in Dietrich and Peraza when you can, including Peraza as the fifth man in the outfield. Unfortunately this means Farmer will probably go down, but this team gives you the best chances at winning. The pitching should keep up, especially if Luis Castillo can wake up.
Something has been up with Luis Castillo recently and it’s very noticable. while he still ranks 3rd in Cy-Young voting, things need to be fixed. He lives and dies by the corner and hitters have realized that and they honestly have just stopped swinging at the first pitch. If Castillo gets the first pitch in, then he controls everything. He also is throwing way too many balls and his slider has not been nearly as effective as it once was. Some of that is due to his success with the change-up which is super nasty, but he needs more than that. Castillo could easy pick it up and remain in Cy-Young contention, but All-Star break will definitely help him out.
As the series begins in Anaheim tonight, what are your realistic expectations for the season? I think this team can sneak into a Wild Card spot and steal a series in the NLDS. They have the potential, but only time will tell.