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Reds Reset: Playoffs? We’re Talking Playoffs?!

Just a week ago, after watching the Reds lose a game to the Cubs that lasted until nearly 2:00 a.m., I began my post stating that the season was over. At the time, Cincinnati was 19-25 and 3.5 games out of the playoff picture with four teams to pass in the standings. While the season wasn’t statistically over, the Reds had given no indication that they were capable of turning this around in a manner that would result in making up that much ground with just 16 games left to play. Why would anyone expect a team that had only won consecutive games four times this season to go on a run?

Well, now the Reds have won six of their last seven games since I pulled the plug on the season and the team is currently in second place in the National League Central which would give them the #6 seed in the new, expanded playoff structure.

After rattling off a season-high five game winning streak the Reds are now just one game under .500 at 25-26 entering the final nine games of the 2020 regular season.

Six of those nine games will be played against the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, two of the best teams in baseball. The middle three games are against the division rival Milwaukee Brewers who are biting at the Reds heels just a game back.

Even with the winning streak, which included a four-game sweep of the cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds will need to keep winning series in order to remain in the playoff picture. Regardless of what happens over the next two weeks it is exciting to have meaningful baseball being played in mid-to-late September in Cincinnati.

Improvements at the Plate

The Reds spent over $160 million this offseason to add Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, and Shogo Akiyama to the lineup. Unfortunately, the offense has vastly underperformed throughout the year to the tune of a .212 team batting average which is the worst in Major League Baseball.

Over the course of the last seven games Cincinnati is hitting .219 as a team. That may seem like a pretty small improvement, it is, and it is still bad anyway, but the timely hitting is what has really seen an uptick.

Cincinnati has relied on the long ball this season a historic amount. Hovering above 60% for the majority of the season, they have scored 59.5% of their runs via Home Run to this point which is over 10% higher than the league average.

While winning six of their last seven, the Reds have “only” scored 51.6% of their runs from Home Runs which means players are coming through more often at the plate. Big blasts are obviously fun, but it isn’t as sustainable of offense especially when it comes time for the playoffs.

Shogo Akiyama has made the biggest improvement at the plate and has been one of the best hitters in baseball so far in the month of September. After a long, successful career in Japan, it took the left-handed hitter a while to adjust to Major League pitching. Now, Akiyama is batting .375 (12-32) this month and drove in the Reds only run last evening to secure a 1-0 victory and a sweep of the Pirates.

Luis Castillo Finding His Groove

Castillo had Cy Young buzz heading into this season, his fourth in the big leagues. However, he began the season 0-5 and the Reds had won just in one of his starts while losing the other six. Castillo was definitely the recipient of some bad luck both in terms of run support and some poor defense behind him, but he still wasn’t throwing the ball as well as he did in his 2019 All-Star season.

Over his last three starts, La Piedra has been absolutely fantastic and is looking like the pitcher we all expected him to be this season. He has allowed just three runs in 22 innings over the course of those three starts and has struck out 24 batters. Castillo has won all three starts to improve his record to 3-5 while dropping his Earned Run Average 3.03.

Last night Castillo pitched seven innings of three-hit, shutout baseball while striking out 10. Last Friday, he threw a complete game two-hitter.

Especially if Cincinnati makes it into the playoffs it will be critical for Castillo to continue pitching like his all-star self.

Bullpen Turnaround

For the first 20 or so games of the season the Reds bullpen was historically bad. Outside of Lucas Sims essentially every arm the Reds turned to was failing consistently and it cost them several games at the beginning of the season.

However, the bullpen unit has made a complete 180 and has now become the best in baseball over the last month or so. In their last four games, covering nine innings of work, the bullpen hasn’t allowed a run and has surrendered just two hits.

Since joining the Reds via trade, Archie Bradley hasn’t allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings spanning five appearances.

Closer Raisel Iglesias has been equally as dominant in the month of September pitching 9 1/3 innings while allowing just one earned run and striking out 10 batters versus just one free pass. In his last four appearances, Iglesias hasn’t even allowed a hit in 4 2/3 innings of work.

Lucas Sims and Amir Garrett have remained reliable arms throughout the season as well. Garrett, who earned his first save of his career just two nights ago, has allowed just two earned runs and five hits in over a month. Sims has had a couple of tough outings this month, but still is sporting a 3.00 ERA on the season with a 2-0 record.

@BRamseyKSR

Article written by Brandon Ramsey

Basketball X's & O's for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @BRamseyKSR

28 Comments for Reds Reset: Playoffs? We’re Talking Playoffs?!



  1. Bigblueswami
    3:32 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Reds still suck



    • satcheluk
      7:08 am September 18, 2020 Permalink

      Losers punch down.



  2. ClutchCargo
    4:12 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Whatever you do, don’t put that plug back in. They could be the 2013-14 UK basketball of MLB before it’s all said and done.



  3. ClutchCargo
    4:12 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Whatever you do, don’t put that plug back in. They could be the 2013-14 UK basketball of MLB before it’s all said and done.



  4. ClutchCargo
    4:12 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Whatever you do, don’t put that plug back in. They could be the 2013-14 UK basketball of MLB before it’s all said and done.



    • ClutchCargo
      4:13 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      That’s strange. I clicked the “submit comment” only one time and got three comments.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      4:38 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      3 for the price of 1? Maybe I need to click 3 times when I post the Reds are the best!



    • ClutchCargo
      4:52 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      It’s like I have a mouse bump stock or something.



    • Dr. Tom
      8:35 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      Clutch, throw away your mouse and get a new one. Same thing used to happen to me and a new mouse fixed the problem!!



  5. westkycat20
    4:35 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Reds still suck. I’m happy for you UK fans that cheer for them but the Reds will always be the Louisville Cardinals of MLB.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      4:38 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      More coverage please!



    • ClutchCargo
      4:50 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      Keep hatin’ on the Reds, it seems to be helping!



    • westkycat20
      6:03 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      I’ve hated the Reds forever…it obviously hasn’t helped you guys EVER.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      6:27 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      Well if you’ve hated us forever it must have helped us in 75, 76, and 90. 😉



    • runningunnin.454
      8:36 am September 18, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t know if anyone noticed, but….the Bengals suck!



    • ClutchCargo
      9:15 am September 18, 2020 Permalink

      Burrow probably wishes he could have brought LSU’s O-line with him. He may end up in a body cast before the season is over.



  6. ClutchCargo
    4:53 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Trying this again just to see what happens.



  7. az1006
    4:55 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    The Cardinals still have 13 games, 8 of which are against last place teams (Pittsburgh and Kansas City) and 5 more against the Brewers in St. Louis. Reds get 6 of their last 9 against two of the best teams in the American League. Lot of baseball left.



  8. Section233
    5:20 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Hey westky
    Reds win



    • westkycat20
      6:04 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

      Win something important then you can talk. Go back to your seat in Section 233



  9. Eddiemcwildcat
    5:34 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Go Cards



  10. UKgrad80
    6:00 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    You’re not playing the Pirates anymore so get over yourself!



  11. kyfanem
    6:43 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Go Cubs!



  12. Cats79
    7:08 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Don’t bother about the reds sucks, being reds fan since early 70’s. There’s more teams just suck as well above them



  13. zoupman
    7:13 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    Hoping they make the playoffs.



  14. panicpat
    7:55 pm September 17, 2020 Permalink

    If we can go 5-4 in these last 3 series, I think we make playoffs. But it’s gonna be tough



    • ClutchCargo
      9:10 am September 18, 2020 Permalink

      Agree. And getting Sonny Gray back soon is suddenly really important.



  15. millertim
    10:10 am September 18, 2020 Permalink

    What’s so disappointing about this team thus far is the lack of offense!! We were sold on the idea that Castellanos, Moustakas, Akiyama with the return of Votto, Winker and last year’s phenom Aquino would make it one of the BEST hitting teams in baseball… We have the WORST offense in baseball with a team BA of .219. Very disappointing…