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The Biggest Series of 2021: Reds vs Brewers

The Biggest Series of 2021: Reds vs Brewers

The 2021 Cincinnati Reds have an opportunity to do something that the franchise hasn’t done in almost a decade. Win the NL Central. All that stands in their way is the first place Milwaukee Brewers.

As of August 24, the Reds are 7.5 games back in the division with only 36 games remaining. Now, that may seem like an insurmountable gap, but, the Reds have three games against the Brewers this week. A three game sweep would leave them just 4.5 games behind as they enter the final push of the season. A sweep of the Brewers will be tough, but the Reds need to do it if they want to win the division.

 

What Needs to Happen?

1. Get(and stay) Healthy

The Biggest Series of 2021: Reds vs Brewers
Image Courtesy of Aaron Doster

This is mainly in reference to Jesse Winker.

The Reds have not felt the loss of Winker as much as anticipated because Tyler Naquin has been spectacular ever since Winker went down. But, if the Reds plan to stay hot and close a 7.5 game gap in under 40 games, Winker is going to have to be healthy for over half of that stretch. Winker has been replaced by Aristides Aquino and Shogo Akiyama. This season, Aquino is hitting .203 and Akiyama is hitting .208. Winker is hitting .307.

Also, the activation of Tejay Antone, done on August 24th, will be huge for the Reds, as he has missed a large chunk of time. The Reds will look to lean on Antone down the stretch as he has been the most reliable bullpen arm when healthy.

Get healthy and then stay healthy.

2. Consistent Starting Pitching

The Biggest Series of 2021: Reds vs Brewers
Image Courtesy of Jeff Dean

It is no secret that the Reds have a star studded offense. They are led by three different players who have all spent time in the MVP discussion(Winker, Castellanos, Votto). It is also no secret that hitting can only carry a team so far.

That is where the starting pitching has picked up the slack, especially as of late. The Reds are led by Wade Miley, who ranks second in the league in WAR. They follow him up with Luis Castillo, who has been as good as anybody in the league in the second half. After Castillo, they have Tyler Mahle, who has had his fair share of struggles this season. But, Mahle has been lights out in away starts. He holds a 7-1 record and a 1.86 ERA in his 13 road starts this season. The next pitcher is Sonny Gray, who twirled an impressive 7 inning showing of 1 hit baseball his last time out. Last, but certainly not least, is the rookie, Vladimir Gutierrez. Gutierrez has gone 6 consecutive starts with at least 6 innings pitched and 2 runs or less allowed.

For the Reds to close the gap, the starting pitching is going to have to be great.

3. Sweep the Brewers

The Reds vs Brewers matchup will set the table for the rest of the season. If the Reds lose the series, leaving them either 10.5 games back or 8.5 games back, the division will seem out of reach. If the Reds can take 2/3 from the Brewers, they will sit 6.5 games back and need a decent amount of losing from the Brewers to make up the gap. But, If the Reds can pull off a three game sweep, they will be sitting 4.5 games back and ride a seven game win streak into another series with the Marlins. The same Marlins team they just swept.

This whole series starts with Tyler Mahle. If he can throw a good game to match Brewers ace, Corbin Burnes, the Reds will be in good shape. The Reds will need him to stay hot as he has been on the road in order to take game one. Game two will be thrown by the red hot Luis Castillo, as he does battle with Brandon Woodruff. The Reds will give the ball to Sonny Gray for game three. He will be opposed by the weak link of the Brewers impressive staff, Brett Anderson.

The Reds need a sweep of the Brewers to win the division. It really is the most important series of the 2021 Cincinnati Reds season.

 

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