The Cincinnati Reds have benefited from some timely home runs in the five games since placing slugging right-fielder Jay Bruce on the disabled list. Joey Votto tied into a walk-off winner. Todd Frazier has belted a pair of monstrous shots at home, including a 484-footer.
But the Reds just aren’t showing that they can produce enough at the plate to offset the power production lost when Bruce went out for arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Bruce wasn’t exactly a world beater so far in 2014. He has just three home runs and 14 RBIs in 30 games. This is far below the expectation for Bruce, who has hit at least 30 HRs each of the past three years and knocked in 97, 99 and 109 runs respectively since 2011.
Despite his slow start to 2014, Bruce would undoubtedly come around eventually and peel off one of his remarkable streaks in which he seems to hit everything hard. In the absence of such a streak now that Bruce is on the DL, the Reds have been forced to hope runs can come from some other source.
In the five games with Bruce out, the Reds are 2-3 and have scored just 16 runs. As long as the Reds’ starting rotation continues to dominate, the team can manage to grind out some wins with lighter bats. But if the rotation falters from its level of fifth-best ERA in baseball (3.04), the Reds may find themselves unable to catch up from deficits.
The loss of Bruce means the Reds will rely more on Skip Schumaker to scratch out meaningful at-bats, like he did by driving in two runs batting second in the Reds’ series finale win against the Colorado Rockies.
But even more so, the meat of the order — Votto, Frazier, Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick — are all going to have to find a groove together if the Reds are going to weather the next month without their only legitimate slugger.