As the end of the second month of the 2012 baseball season approaches, we find the Cincinnati Reds in first place of the Central Division. For the first time in the season, the Reds are 7 games above .500 at 27-20. Now the question is how did the Cincinnati Reds get to this position (the one I predicted at the beginning of the season, by the way)?
The reason that the Cincinnati Reds are in first place at the end of the month of May is quite simply the pitching. The one area that concerned me most at the start of the season has been the one area that has been steady over the last 20 games.
The starting pitching for the Cincinnati Reds has performed well above expectations. Oh, sure Johnny Cueto has been outstanding. He sits at 5-2 and has been shut down most of the season. Sure, he has lost 2 of his last 3 starts. Looked bad actually. But he is the best pitcher in the league, so he will bounce back and become the pitcher we all know and love.
It is the rest of the staff for the Cincinnati Reds that has been surprising. As a staff the Reds rank 4th in the league in ERA with a 3.42 number. When you consider that half of the games have been played at GABP, a very hitter friendly park, that is an amazing stat. I believe that the best number to show the reason for the success of the staff is their strikeouts per base-on-balls ratio. The Reds rank 3rd in the league with a 2.79. So when they do give up home runs, and they do in that park, very often it is a solo shot. That helps explain the low ERA.
The Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen has been the real stopper so far this season. As a unit they are first in the league with 12 wins (Aroldis Chapman has 4). They are second in the league in ERA with a 2.51. They are first in the league in strike outs with 161 and first in batting average against at .204. To say the least the bullpen has been more than solid.
Now that Cincinnati Reds’ manager, Dusty Baker, seems to have settled on a rotation with Chapman at the end, it appears that the pitching is not an anomaly, but a recipe for success.