It has been a real pleasure watching my beloved Cincinnati Reds throughout the 2012 season. I have enjoyed practically every moment watching them win over and over. Everyone should have that kind of fun (I know how New York Yankee fans feel every year).
However, there is a dark, sinister cloud forming over the Redlegs as the season ends and the playoffs appear on the horizon. That dark storm cloud is taking the form of blown opportunities at the plate and worn out pitchers on the mound.
Let’s start with the mound, focusing mainly on two pitchers - Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman.
-Cueto, who was 17-6 and leading cadidate for the Cy Young Award, has fallen apart in the last two games. Against losing teams, Cueto has gone 0-2 and given up 4 runs in each outing. In the second outing he lasted 4 innings. He doesn’t have the command of his pitches nor the movement. Clearly, he is showing fatigue. Rest would be a good idea, even if it meant no possibility of an award.
-Chapman – After saving 27 straight games, the Cincinnati Reds’ closer has also fallen prey to fatigue. He’s throwing in the 93-94mph range now and not striking out nearly as many. In the last two games he has worked an inning and two-thirds, allowed 4 hits, 3 earned runs, walked 3 and struck out only 2. According the the Cincinnati Enquirer, he will be shut down for about five days to rest. Hopefully, he can recharge for the playoffs.
If these two pitchers aren’t full strength, the Cincinnati Reds will not last past the first series.
In hitting, the Cincinnati Reds just cannot get it done with RISP. They rank 9th overall in that category with a .246 average. (To be fair, only 3 teams ahead of them could be in the playoffs.) With 2 outs and RISP, the Cincinnati Reds ranks 14th with a .200 average. Oddly, if the Reds have a runner on 3rd with 2 outs or less, they are pretty much money. They rank 6th with a .321 average.
All that being said, the Cincinnati Reds strike out way too much when they need to move runners over or simply lift a sacrifice fly. Their bunting, outside of Cueto, is pitiful. IF they can fix these problems and get rest, they will be fine in the playoffs; howevr, it is doubtful they will be able to fix the problems. So even with the rest for the pitching, the Reds are in trouble because of the hitting.
I foresee being swept and a disappointing end to a wonderful season.