By Grant E. Doepel @GrantDoepel on April 27, 2014
After losing Saturday night in Atlanta, the Cincinnati Reds hold a 11-13 record after their first 24 games. Every fan, player and coach has a differentiating opinion on how this early season has played out. We take a unique approach to dissecting the Reds early 2014 production.
The story of the season so far for the Cincinnati Reds has been the amount of injuries this team has been forced to endure -- Aroldis Chapman, Mat Latos, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Skip Schumaker, etc. Bryan Price and his staff have been forced to disguise the Reds' shortcomings. They have done so by smartly relying on the team's strength of starting pitching and placing a new-found emphasis on the run game.
Before his latest injury, Devin Mesoraco was a wrecking ball that laid waste to any pitching staff that faced him. The hot-hitting catcher was a force to be reckoned in the Reds' lineup, as he provided stability in the seven-hole that this team had been missing for quite some time. When healthy, Mesoraco added a successful, new dimension to an inconsistent lineup.
Since signing his $100 million contract before Opening Day, Homer Bailey has been anything but reliable. In four of his five starts this season, Bailey has been as useful as using gasoline to put out a fire. Bailey has yet to last longer than six innings on the season -- two six inning outings, two five inning outings, and an outing of just four and a third. In just 26.1 innings, Bailey has surrendered 18 earned runs (6.15 ERA), 39 hits and seven home runs.
While Homer Bailey has struggled, the opposite is the case for starters Johnny Cueto and Alfredo Simon, who have been simply stellar. Cueto has thrown 39 innings while allowing just 19 hits and six earned runs (1.38 ERA), while tossing two complete games (one of which was a shutout). Simon is 3-1 while throwing 27.2 innings, allowing four earned runs (1.30 ERA) on 17 hits. While Bailey has struggled mightily, Cueto and Simon have shouldered the burden to keep the Reds on the right track.
As most seasons do, 2014 started out with high hopes for the Cincinnati Reds. The team was coming off of yet another 90+ win season (despite the playoff outcome), and was mostly still intact from the season before. Throughout the first month of the season, the high hopes of the fanbase have slowly dwindled as the losses piled up. There's only so many times fans can hear "it's still early in the season" before they stop believing the words.
At the 24 game mark in the season, the Reds have fallen behind the Milwaukee Brewers by seven games in the NL Central standings.
Before this season, Reds fans knew of the "Myth of Billy Hamilton," but had yet to actually see the speedster throughout the course of a season. Now that Hamilton is on full display for the MLB, we are seeing living proof that speed can change the game of baseball.
The Reds are still without one of the best pitchers in the National League, as star right-hander Mat Latos has been trapped on the disabled list since before the start of the season. As previously mentioned, Alfredo Simon has filled in spectacularly, but his absence in the bullpen has been noticeable. The sooner the Reds can turn to a healthy Latos, the better this team will become.
Earlier, we eluded to Homer Bailey's $100 million contract extension, a large commitment from Reds' ownership. While some teams in the league are focusing their funds towards signing outside free agents, the Reds are choosing to take care of their own by signing current stars to long-term contracts. Upcoming decisions will need to be made by the Reds regarding players such as Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos.
The start might not have been exactly how the Reds and their fans would have drawn it up, but the Reds have been playing in some incredibly close games in the young season. One thing Reds fans can take great pride in is that this team has never given up or surrendered, despite injuries or losses.
It's bound to come, right?
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