Last year's collapse by the Reds was a tough one. They were in first place in a decidedly mediocre Wild Card race for what seemed like two months. And then, the dreaded two-week west coast road trip came about. It started August 24th in San Fransisco and ended September 3rd in San Diego. Before that trip I remember thinking "well, if they go .500 on this trip, they'll still be in the race." Of course, they went 2-8 and came home to fresh sheets and no playoff chances. There's nothing like staying up until 1:30 am (and on a weeknight! ....gah, I'm getting old) just to watch your team choke away the season.
Did I really think the Reds had a chance to make some noise in the playoffs? No, not really. But, neither did Cards fans, either, I'd say. Do I think they have a chance this year? Actually, I do. Up until the Wednesday and Thursday games, the pitching staff had been lights-out. Of course, I should have written this post two days ago, before they squashed my argument when the bullpen blew consecutive games to the Astros. That said, the starting pitching has been tough. Bronson Arroyo has a 3.25 ERA through four starts. Sadly, I'm pretty sure he's going to have to join a support group for as well as he's been pitching to still have zero wins. Just bad luck though, really. The real story is the back end of the rotation where Kyle Lohse and Matt Belisle have left nothing to be desired. Did you see Lohse's 12 strikeout game the other night? And, against the Cubs even.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't like to worry too much about bullpens or #5 starters. Sure, it's great to have a stud closer, and you really do have to have someone to turn to at the end of the season when you need an out. But, I guess what I'm saying is that these are the sort of things that get sorted out over the course of the year with guys getting called up and sent down, or the well-timed trade. And, I think there's some talent in Louisville for the Reds. Just you wait. Some guy named Johnny Fifteenminutes will record 9 saves in September and all the problems are solved.
In a strange twist of fate, the offense was the big question mark for me coming into the season. And, there's still some issues to sort out. The bad news: David Ross has decided to do his best Jason LaRue impression with 14 K's in his 35 plate appearances. Note to Dave: Adam Dunn - Power = .121 BA. However, the good news is Josh Hamilton (aka Roy Hobbs) has come back from years of drug addiction to be one of the best players (pardon the limited sample size) I've ever seen. He's a smart, strong hitter and his swing makes Adam Dunn look like a windmill by comparison. He's got me so excited, I already pulled my annual fantasy "ill-advised Reds' player pickup." I guess there's always time for two.
Anyway, before the season started, I had the Reds at 3rd of 4th in the division. Right now I'm not ruling out anything. There's just not a really good team in the division. I know, 8-8 isn't winning the pennant, but .500 keeps you in the Wild Card race. If they get a couple of relievers from nowhere and the offense plays the way it should, they could win the division. Not that I'm predicting it or anything.