Even after winning three out of four in Pittsburgh, the sluggish start does not bode well for the Reds. They find themselves six games out of first place, which should not be alarming in April.
A cursory scan of history, however, indicates that only two other Reds teams in this century have been as many as six games out in the month of April. Needless to say, neither of those teams reached first place at any point for the rest of the season.
The 2008 team dropped as many as six games back on April 30, and they never got closer than that for the rest of the season. In spite of having All-Stars Ken Griffey, Adam Dunn, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, along with a rotation featuring Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, that club finished 23 games back with a 74-88 record.
Five years prior, Cincinnati found itself six games out on April 25th. That club, which endured a mid season managerial change, did manage to get as close as one and a half game back as late as May 28th. Still, they ended up thirty games under .500 and 19 games behind the Chicago Cubs.
The current club does have a better chance of ocompensating for its underperforming April, since its pitching rotation is superior to either of the prior April disasters. Their offense, though, has too many holes to offer much hope for a drastic turnaround, and they have already committed an entire season worth of base running blunders.
In addition, this 2014 team has suffered several key injuries, as well as losses to several key players to free agency over the winter. There also was a change in managers, and Bryan Price has so far not had as much success as predecessor Dusty Baker.
Hopefully the Reds can bounce back and win the National League central division, unlike those two other slow starting clubs. After all, the season is just 25 games young, and the team six games up on the Reds is Milwaukee. It is difficult to believe that the Brewers will remain as hot as they were in April, but just behind them are the stalwart Cardinals who have given the Reds trouble in the past.
One dubious feat that these Reds are likely to avoid is in the standings. Both the 2003 and 2008 clubs finished in fifth place, which in what then was a six team division. The Astros are gone, so the Reds will do no worse than finish fourth. Thank goodness for the Cubs.