With spring training getting underway, it’s time to talk about my favorite team in all of sports, the Reds. If you would have asked me if the Cincinnati Reds, my favorite MLB team (sorry, Cleveland), were the favorites for the National League (NL) Central after another “rebuilding” (really having high hopes only to be let down once again) season, I would have said you were crazy. However, the Reds had quite a productive off-season with free-agent signings. Some of these include ace Pitcher Wade Miley from the Houston Astros, 3B Mike Moustakas from the Milwaukee Brewers, CF Shogo Akiyama from Japan, and RF Nick Castellanos from the Chicago Cubs. With all these signings, the Reds are the favorite for the NL Central. However, I’m not holding my breath anytime soon for two reasons; the bullpen and the inconsistency.
Don’t get me wrong, the starting pitching and bullpen situations actually have me excited, with pitchers Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley, Anthony DeSclafani, and Sonny Gray for the starting rotation, and Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Raisel Iglesias, Robert Stephenson leading the bullpen. However, if you look at the statistics from the previous season, I’m nervous. Seven other pitchers from the bullpen had an Earned-Run Average (ERA) of above 5.00. That makes me nervous because no matter how great the starting rotation looks; pitching is only as good as the bullpen is. If the Reds have another situation where bullpen pitchers give up runs like Oprah Winfrey gives away free stuff, kiss the division goodbye.
While the previous reason is only a mild concern, this next reason I am truly concerned about and fully expecting this season; inconsistency. Any fellow Reds fan can agree that the team sure knows how to keep it exciting. And by exciting, I mean either score a lot of runs while simultaneously giving up many runs, never seeming to score the one more run necessary to tie the game, or flat-out blow a huge lead, each of these happened way too many times than I’d like to have seen last season. In terms of one-run games, the Reds had lost 33 times. Think about that; if the offense had managed to get on base better or hit a solo home run, or if the pitching sharpened up as well as the defense 33 different times, there would be different results. In cases of high scoring games, the Reds actually were decent, going 20-19. However, if the pitching and defense were more consistent, it shouldn’t have come down to the wire in terms of high-scoring games.
Then my last example, blowing huge leads, is the reason I muted the Reds Twitter account. Two games come to mind; May 3rd against the San Francisco (SF) Giants, and July 19th against rivals the St. Louis (STL) Cardinals, both Friday night games at home. Against SF, the Reds were up 8-0 going into the fourth inning; SF scores 3, I get worried, but we survive. The Reds scored another 2 runs over the next two innings; the score is now 10-3. The Giants then proceeded to score 8 more runs over the next four innings while the Reds only scored one (11-11 score). The Reds then lost in extra innings by, you guessed it, one run, 12-11. I got angry, but it was early in the season, so I got over it. Cut to July 19th, the Reds have a 7-0 lead going into the sixth, and it was the last time the Reds would lead that game. The Cardinals proceeded to score 10 runs in that inning alone and ultimately defeat the Reds by the same score of 12-11 (another one-run game). After that, I officially gave up on the 2019 Cincinnati Reds.
Honestly, just thinking about the inconsistency from last season is making me super nervous. But hopefully, I’m wrong and the Reds finally get it together. Then again, nothing says you’re a Reds fan more than saying “This is our year, I can feel it!”, when it probably is going to end the same way it has for the past few years, disappointing.