The Reds are in a bad place right now. I know it, you know it, and the front office knows it. The Reds’ starting pitching has been awful, their bullpen has been subpar, their defense has been anemic, and their offense has been atrocious. The Reds are last in all of baseball in run differential (by far at -48), last in team ERA, second last in runs scored, and 22nd in fielding percentage. To put it lightly, the Reds are one of the, if not the, worst teams in baseball at the start of this young 15 game season.
OK, enough negativity. Yes the Reds have been bad, but there have been some bright spots and some positive things going on with this team that are worth discussing. Without further ado, 5 positive things that I think are worth discussing:
1. Injuries – You may be wondering how injuries can be a positive thing, but hear me out. The Reds have been decimated by injuries to start the season. Two of the starting pitchers they were counting heavily on to begin the year wound up on the disabled list (Desclafani and Finnegan) and their bullpen has also been hit by the injury bug with Lorenzen, Shackelford, and Hernandez all on the DL. The disabled list goes on to include position players such as Suarez and Schebler and even Jesse Winker has missed games recently.
Look, the point is that the injuries have attributed to the Reds being bad. They are currently missing three of their position players and two fifths of their starting rotation. The injuries don’t give us an accurate representation of how this team is really performing. The Reds have looked bad, but they have looked bad because they aren’t playing with some of their best players.
2. Amir Garrett – Amir Garrett has been awesome out of the bullpen. He hasn’t given up a run, has looked confident, comfortable, and most notably…healthy. Although I think he has been somewhat underused to start the season, there will continue to be questions about whether or not he should be starting. Amir has definitely been a bright spot during the first 15 games of the year and I think by the end of the year he will make an impact on the starting rotation and be the single biggest positive to come out of 2018.
3. Jesse Winker – Jesse Winker is going to be a quality big league player. Albeit for a few hiccups in the field and for his ever improving defense, Winker has looked comfortable and in control in the lineup. The Reds finally have a guy they can bat leadoff and be confident that he’s going to give them a good at bat. Although durability is a new concern given his multiple stints on the DL over the past couple of years, Jesse Winker and his refreshing approach at the plate, especially as a leadoff hitter, is something to be positive about.
4. Homer Bailey – Homer Bailey is healthy and pitching…inconsistent. The biggest positive about this is that Homer Bailey is healthy. No matter your feelings about Homer, it’s a good thing when one of your front end starters that you’re paying around 17 million dollars for is actually pitching in games. He has looked pretty decent doing it as well. None of us expected Homer to go out and be a sub 2 ERA pitcher this year, but he is showing flashes and is putting together some decent games. Homer has had a long road coming back from injuries over the past 4 years. Him pitching and showing signs of improvement and contribution this year is something to be optimistic about.
5. Joey Votto has sucked – This is another attempt by me to spin a negative into a positive (like the injuries). Joey Votto has been really bad so far this season. He has been very, eh…un-Votto like and its taken a toll on the Reds’ offense. He’s hitting a measly .236 with an OBP of just .283 and and OPS of only .520. The good thing is is that this is Joey Votto we are talking about. There is no way on earth that he’s going to continue with that kind of production over the entire season. Joey will come back down to earth (or up to earth?) eventually and it will pay dividends on the offense.
The biggest thing for me to start this year is that it’s been the “perfect storm” so to speak. Between the injuries, lack of offense from proven players (eh hm…Joey!), and managerial decisions…I don’t think the Reds and their true talent (when healthy) are nearly as bad as their record indicates. Maybe this is why this year has been so frustrating, because we know these guys are better.
Give it time. Guys will get healthy, players will perform like they have for years, and things will level out.
Jeff is Cincinnati born, Ohio University educated. Reds baseball has been a central theme of his family ever since his mom and dad helped him skip school to attend Opening Day. Jeff has been accused of having a “man crush” on Joey Votto and longs for the day that he gets to witness the Reds finally win a playoff series. You can follow him on Twitter @Gaaangs