How good will the 2014 Cincinnati Reds be? Will they be dominant enough to win the NL Central or just competitive enough to maybe vie for a wild card spot? A second straight series win (two-games-to-one over the Chicago Cubs) may be an early indicator that the Reds will recover from a slow start to the season in which the team dropped their first four series.
Granted, the Reds’ second straight series win came against the hapless Cubs, who are arguably the worst among the bad teams in the major leagues. But still, good teams are expected to beat bad teams, which the Reds have done relentlessly by posting a 51-21 record against the Cubs since 2010.
The Reds won a three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the road trip to Chicago and will immediately face the Pirates again, only this time in Pittsburgh, where the Reds dropped the NL wild card last year. The Reds were just 8-11 against the Pirates during the regular season last year.
For the Reds to re-establish the kind of overpowering presence in the NL Central that has resulted in two division titles in the past four years, first-year manager Bryan Price and his team must win or at the very least split the upcoming four-game series against the Pirates.
Anything less than a split with the Pirates will cast a shadow of doubt that the Reds will be able to consistently beat the better teams they face throughout the year. Furthermore, it will make it even harder for the 8-10 Reds to finish with a .500 record in April because the Atlanta Braves are up after the Pirates.
Should the Reds lose those two upcoming series, not even the promise of a sweep for the Reds’ final series of April (against the Cubs at home) would be enough to make the Reds a winning team for the month.