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Cincinnati Reds: Reviewing the season before it is over

The Cincinnati Reds season has just one series left, and that could seem like good news for the Reds faithful. The season started about as poor as possible with their 3-18 start. However, in the middle of the season, Cincinnati was rolling. The Reds were one of the better teams in baseball throughout the dog days of summer.

The Bad is Back

Unfortunately, reality hit and the Reds returned to their April form. The Reds have lost five games straight to two teams that host the worst records in the league. The only team with a record worse than the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals are the Baltimore Orioles, who are proud owners of the third-worst record since 1962.

Losing five games in a row to the Marlins and Royals is bad enough already, but scoring zero or one run in four of those five shows how bad the Reds are finishing their season. The offense is gone. The one bright spot for the Reds in 2018 has been their offense, often losing games due to poor pitching. At this point, the Reds can pitch a shutout and they would somehow still find a way to lose.

The Reds appear to be trying to net a top-five pick for the fourth year in a row, and with a few more losses they just might. In a season full of disappointment, it is hard to watch the Reds finish so poorly after giving the fans hope midseason.

(Photo Courtesy: Cincinnati Enquirer)

The Dream

The Reds were hoping to be competitive by 2018. Watching the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies complete their rebuild so easily, with the Braves winning the National League East, remaining stuck in the basement is a tough pill to swallow.

The Reds did show signs of life after former manager Bryan Price was fired. Perhaps the poor ending is just the offense feeling defeated after putting such a great effort for most of the season. There may be no reason to be concerned at the poor performance of the offense, but it is still concerning to watch them be completely outplayed by lesser teams.

Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett were so hot most of the season you could actually see steam coming off of them, before moving to Alaska in September. The pitching, outside of Luis Castillo, has remained the same as they have all season, which is, not good. Management and ownership still show no signs of adjusting to the game and trying to better the franchise. All in all, another bad year in Cincinnati. That being said, there are positives from 2018.

The New All-Stars

Suarez had a 2018 to remember. For most of 2018 he was in the running for MVP and had it not been for a poor end to the season he would still receive some votes, despite missing 16 games in April. With three games left, he is slashing .280/.366/.516 with an OPS of .882. He has 32 home runs and 101 RBI, both career highs for him. All this is good for a WAR of four. He also got his first nod in the Midsummer Classic in July.

At just 27 years of age, Suarez is just now entering his prime. He has one of the best contracts in the league for a player of his caliber. He will cost the Reds just over seven million in 2019, which will help open the door for other signings.

Gennett proved that last season was not a fluke. Most people thought he would come back down to earth after being an average player throughout his career. Those people were wrong.

It is unlikely he will capture the NL batting title, but he is the runner-up at the moment with a .313 average. He trails only Javier Baez in RBI and home runs among NL second baseman. He also got his first trip to the All-Star game in 2018.

Gennett is a free agent at the end of the season, but both parties have expressed interest in making a deal happen. The Cincinnati native wants to stay home so it is possible he may take a hometown discount. The only problem with keeping Gennett is that it does not free up a position for prized prospect Nick Senzel. Senzel has been playing outfield recently, if he can hold his own out there it would almost certainly mean they try to get a deal done with Gennett.

Old Reliable and The Up and Coming

The always reliable Joey Votto quietly produce another solid season, good enough for his sixth All-Star appearance. It was nowhere near his 2017 season that saw him lose the MVP race by just two points, but it was solid nonetheless. His biggest drop-off came in the power category. He was only able to club 12 home runs, but he still managed to do what he does best, get on base. Votto will finish 2018 as the leader in OBP yet again, he currently boasts a .417 mark.

(Photo Courtesy: WCPO)

After a horrendous start to the season, Luis Castillo proved he still has what it takes to be a future ace. In his last five starts, Castillo has an ERA of 1.09, with a WHIP at .85. He has also struck out 34 batters in 33 innings with just 8 walks. He also pitched a career-high 8 1/3 innings in his final start of the season against the Marlins Friday.

Castillo has been shut down for the remainder of the season so he will not pitch against the Pirates. If he can keep this up into next year, the Reds chances of contending will increase significantly.

In a year full of disappointment, focusing on the positives helps cope with 2018. The Reds will be back at it again next year, hopefully with a revamped rotation and a new manager. Let’s finish the season on a strong note and snag a series win to end the season against the Pirates.

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