The Cincinnati Reds have started the 2014 season much worse than expected. The inability of the Reds’ hitters to hit and the pitchers to pitch in timely situations has landed the team into an early-season hole.
It is a hole, however, that has precedent. In 2012, the Reds won the NL Central division with the second-most regular season wins in baseball, but the season of 97 wins in 2012 didn’t start like it finished. In fact, that 2012 season started just like the 2014 season for the Reds with a 4-8 record.
In 2012, the Reds were able to overcome the bad start, which included three one-run losses (all in extra innings). The eventual division winners won seven of their next 10 games to conclude April at an even 11-11.
The 2014 Reds have their work cut out for them if the team is going to rally from 4-8 for a .500 finish to end the first month of the season. Unlike 2012, the Reds are minus one key starting pitcher in Mat Latos. The 2014 pitching staff also started the season without closer Aroldis Chapman and eighth-inning setup relievers Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall, who all figured prominently in the Reds’ success of 2012.
The 2014 Reds have seen Broxton return with the likelihood that Marshall will also make his way back by the end of April. The expectation remains that both Latos and Chapman will be back by the end of May if not earlier.
So the future for the Reds in 2014 remains bright despite the slow start and the slew of injuries. Six of the Reds’ nine losses to start the season have been by one run. Even the disappointing start of rookie Billy Hamilton as the team’s leadoff hitter and center fielder capable of stealing 100 bases doesn’t seem so bleak when considering Hamilton’s counterpart in 2012 — Drew Stubbs — hit .213 with an on-base percentage of .277.
Even with the slow start and lack of production from the leadoff spot, the 2012 Reds were able to put it together. The 2014 Reds might just do the same.