Reds close in on NL Central before All Star break
07/13/2014 10:30 AM
While their NL Central foe, the Milwaukee Brewers, got off to the hottest start in baseball, the Reds start was a little cooler. Cincinnati struggled to even put back-to-back wins together, let alone win a series. Injuries and inconsistent offense held them back. Possibly their biggest early season blow was when Aroldis Chapman suffered a fracture after being hit in the face with a line drive and ended up on the disabled list. Those struggles lasted until the month of June.
By June 22, the Reds found themselves 8.5 games back in the NL Central. The next day they topped the .500 mark for the first time this season. Since then they’ve been “as good as any team in the league”, according to MLB.com’s Richard Justice, who cites Bryan Price, a deep team and Billy Hamilton being the best center fielder in baseball as reasons for the Reds success.
The Brewers, who lead the NL Central, are the only team to score more runs than the Reds in this stretch. While the Nationals and Dodgers are the only teams with lower ERAs; the argument could be made that the Reds starting pitchers are the best in the league. The Reds are also currently ranked second in the MLB in steals, already totaling more stolen bases than all of last season.
Though the Reds may be the best team in the National League right now, the past week has brought back one of their early season struggles… injuries. Brandon Phillips left Wednesday’s game after making a diving defensive stop. The second baseman will be out about six weeks after his surgery for a torn thumb ligament. Billy Hamilton tweaked his hamstring in a seventh-inning at bat Wednesday, but luckily appeared to be just a scare. Starting pitcher Homer Bailey had an MRI performed on a strained right knee. He’s expected to be able to make his next start after the All-Star break. This is all on top of Joey Votto being moved to the disabled list with a strained left distal quadriceps.
In a tough division, it’s expected to be a tight race for the NL Central when games resume after the All Star break. The Reds are hot right now and if they can do more than simply survive these injuries, it’ll be an exciting second half of the season in Cincinnati.
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