By Illya Harrell on September 1, 2014
The Cincinnati Reds' season started all smiles as the team kept in the hunt despite a slew of early injuries. At the All-Star break, first-year manager Bryan Price had his team 1.5 games out of NL Central lead with a record of 51-44. Things were looking good in Reds country before a monumental post-break free fall where things went from bad to sad. September has arrived, and here are five predictions for the month.
Joey Votto's quad strain is showing no sign of improvement, and the same can be said for Homer Bailey's elbow flexor. At this point, there is no indication either will play again in 2014. Unless the Reds roll off a 10-game winning streak, neither will see action until next season.
On Sunday, the Reds dealt Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee. It was a smart play, as it freed the cash-strapped Reds a little room for a left field acquisition. Regardless, Broxton was -- besides Aroldis Chapman -- the only truly reliable arm in the pen, with a possible exception of Jumbo Diaz. Cincinnati will use a set-up man by committee with fans expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
Only an average 21,599 fans showed up to Reds games in 2009. By 2013, it had grown by nearly 10,000 per game and had risen each year prior. While the gate numbers will still be impressive in 2014, entering the month averaging 30,812 per game, the last 14 home games will likely dip that average below the 30,000, and there is no way fans will keep the trend of annual rising attendance moving into the 2015 season.
The Reds' brass have already stated that their two big-name pitching prospects, Michael Lorenzen and Robert Stephenson, will not be getting September calls. That leaves the familiar faces who have been up-and-down all year, plus a new face, right fielder Yorman Rodriguez. He's already on the 40-man roster and can't be worse than Jay Bruce. There is a slight chance Raisel Iglesias will be given a call even though he's yet to throw in the minors.
The Reds have gone 31 years without a last-place divisional finish. In perspective, Johnny Bench was on that 1983 team. The Reds' bats are simply going through the motions while the upstart Chicago Cubs are seething to finish outside of fifth place for the first time since 2009. They host the Reds in mid-September for a three-game series. The Cubs will be fired up, win the series, and send the Reds to last place.
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