Reds contenders in second half

By Jacob Smith - [email protected]

CINCINNATI — The 2021 Cincinnati Reds face a second half schedule with as much intrigue as any year in the last decade.

It’s been since 2012 that the Reds last won the NL Central and since 2013 since they were a true wild card team. They were a wild card team in 2020, along with five other National League clubs for the first time in baseball history.

The 2014 season saw the Reds seven games above .500 before a brutal second half that began a six-year period of sub-.500 clubs.

A 25-42 second half in ‘14 ended the chances of three-straight playoff appearances for a team searching for an identity.

Fast-forward to post All-Star Break 2021 and David Bell’s Reds, boasting a 48-42 record and just four games behind first place Milwaukee, have made it clear their intention is to carry their winning ways into the second half.

Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Brewers gave the Reds their third-straight series win and improved their record to 9-2 in the month of July.

“Our players are stepping up in every way,” Reds manager David Bell said, after Sunday’s win. “Guys (are) having fun, enjoying themselves, believing in themselves and having confidence that we can do it. It’s been a pleasure just being around these guys and watching them go about it this way. You couldn’t ask for any more.”

Something that these Reds have been good at is being promising in the clutch.

Sure, there have been some major disasters, but to boast a 16-10 record in one-run games is a credit to their going when the going gets tough.

They’ve also dropped their team ERA to 4.38 — good enough for 18th in the MLB with 72 games to play in the regular season. That figure was once one of the worst among MLB’s 30 teams, but a solid stretch despite missing key pieces like Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims in the bullpen has steadied the waters.

The Reds offense ranks Top-10 in average (.249, 7th), on-base percentage (.330, 4th), runs scored (435, 8th), and slugging (.415, 10th) through the team’s first 90 games.

A lineup that features two All-Star Game starters in Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker, former MVP Joey Votto, gold glove winner Tucker Barnhart, former All-Star Eugenio Suarez, and sensational rookies in Johnathan India and Tyler Stephenson is about as dangerous as they come.

And with Nick Senzel and Mike Moustakas set to return in the coming months, there are plenty of options to try and seek a rent-able trade piece if this front office has aspirations of going “all-in” with this group.

Here are some key numbers and things to remember about their schedule moving forward that will likely make or break the Reds’ possible playoff campaign.

—The Reds will play 38 home games at Great American Ball Park and 34 games on the road to close out the 2021 season.

—13 of the Reds remaining 72 games will be played against last place Pittsburgh (34-56).

—20 of their remaining 72 will be played against last-place teams as of July 15 (Miami – 7, Pittsburgh – 13).

—Nearly half of their remaining games will be played against NL Central opponents. As of July 15, the Reds have the best record among NL Central teams against one another (25-12)

—Four games behind first-place Milwaukee (53-39), three back in the loss column. Reds also trail the second wild card team San Diego (53-40) by 3.5 games and just two in the loss column.

By Jacob Smith

[email protected]

Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved