With Monday’s 6-5 loss to the Pittsburg Pirates the Cincinnati Reds’ record fell to 8-11 placing them securely in fourth place. But for Reds fans the season is young so the team’s win-loss record should be overlooked for the short term.
Fans knew April was destined to be a tough since the team began the season with eight players on the disabled list. But that was only part of the problem; the Reds were also scheduled to face the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pirates twice during the month, the two teams that ended the 2013 season ahead of them.
Run production was a problem for the Reds as the 2013 season came to a close, but Reds Manager Bryan Price’s recent changes to the lineup have had a positive impact on run production. In the past five games, the Reds have scored 25 runs compared to 13 runs scored in the first five games of the season.
Simply put, catcher Devin Mesoraco is on fire right now, batting safely in his first 10 games with a batting average north of .500. Besides leading the team in RBIs with 12, he is also leading in double production with six. Although the .500 plus batting average can’t last all season, his strong start coupled with teammates getting on base have been instrumental is beefing up the team’s offensive performance.
One of the pleasant surprises in April has been the stellar performances of starter Alfredo Simon. With starters like Johnny Cueto, Tony Cingrani, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, Simon, is not normally the first name mentioned when discussing the Reds pitching staff, but with a 0.86 ERA after 21 innings, it should be. Simon is proving to be one of the team’s most efficient pitchers at shutting down opponents bats.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto said watch out when the Reds get healthy, and he is right. Its bullpen has struggled in recent games, most notably in Monday’s 6-5 loss to the Pirates, as the team waits for its star closer Aroldis Chapman to return. The team also has a couple players in the lineup still working too hard just to get on base — namely Zack Cozart who is batting below .200 and rookie Billy Hamilton.
If the team hopes to be a serious contender this fall it must get — and stay — healthy real soon because May opens with a 4-game series against the white-hot Milwaukee Brewers.