With the arrival of May came the chance for the Cincinnati Reds and their fans to shed themselves of a bad start to the 2014 season. The NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers arrived in Cincinnati for a four-games series, and the Reds got another chance to right their ship and show the Brewers and the rest of the baseball world that the Reds belong back in the playoffs.
That’s one way to look at the Reds’ bad start: it’s over and the real Reds are ready to show up now. The shellacking the Reds put on the Brewers in their series’ opener Thursday night might suggest this rosy outlook.
The other way to see the Reds’ bad start is that the April Reds really are the 2014 Reds, and it doesn’t look like there will be a third-straight postseason appearance.
If the injury bug continues to bite the Reds like it has, then that bad start very well could be perpetuated. Just as some progress is made on the injury front for the Reds with closer Aroldis Chapman and utility player Skip Schumaker, starting pitcher Tony Cingrani lands on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained shoulder and Reds’ speed demon Billy Hamilton suffers a hand injury during the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Brewers. The loss of both could be a real obstacle if they have sustained serious injuries.
But the bad start the Reds endured really isn’t insurmountable. The 12-15 record that the team posted in April isn’t the first time in recent years that the Reds had a 12-15 month. Last year’s NL wildcard team went 12-15 in June, and the 2010 NL Central winners went 12-15 in September.
The Reds can also draw some encouragement from the 2012 team that won the division — they finished the first month 11-11 before rolling their way to a 97-win season.
This year’s Reds can also look to those playoff teams of 2010, 2012 and 2013 for inspiration when it comes to winning streaks. All three teams peeled off a 19-win month. The 2014 Reds may not post a 19-win month, but they are poised to battle back from their slow start because virtually all of the key players in the Reds’ recent success have been there before and know what it will take to revive their winning ways.