Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Reds are playing some very good baseball

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

All of a sudden, the Cincinnati Reds are interesting again.

Heading into Tuesday’s game at Milwaukee, the Reds had won four straight, five of their last six and 11 of their last 14 games. They had scored 10 or more runs in three of their last four. Joey Votto had driven in a run in six straight games. Jonathan India was hitting .375 over his last four games. Rookie pitcher Vladimir Gutiérrez had beaten the first-place Brewers for his third win in four starts.

And, oh yeah, the team’s top prospect, 21-year-old right-handed fireballer Hunter Greene, had been promoted to Triple-A Louisville.

It’s quite a turnaround from the team that was blasted 17-3 by the Philadelphia Phillies back on June 1. That was the game in which the Reds bullpen imploded yet again, forcing utility infielder Alex Blandino to take the mound for the fourth time this season. The loss left David Bell’s club 24-29.

Two days later, Cincinnati commenced to turning the season around. Gutiérrez, a 25-year-old right-hander from Cuba, beat the Cardinals 4-2 in his second major league start. By the end of the weekend in St. Louis, the Reds had swept the four-game series.

After losing two out of three at home to Milwaukee, the Reds outscored Colorado 27-10 in a three-game sweep. Cincinnati followed that with the 10-2 win at Milwaukee on Monday to pull within four games of the first-place Brewers and Chicago Cubs in the up-for-grabs National League Central Division.

What changed? Start with Gutiérrez. Replacing the injured Jeff Hoffman in the rotation, Gutiérrez has been more than a welcome addition. He’s 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA. He threw 110 pitches on Monday, allowing just two runs over six innings. He’s given up just 15 hits over 23 innings.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Out for just over a month with a broken thumb, Votto has hit three home runs and driven in 12 runs over seven games since returning June 8. The 37-year-old has lifted his batting average from .216 on June 9 to .237 through Monday’s game. His OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) has jumped from .725 to .790.

Another change: India in the leadoff spot. The Reds shuffled positions in spring training — second baseman Mike Moustakas to third base; Eugenio Suárez from third base to shortstop — to open a spot for the former first-round pick out of Florida. India started hot, hitting .353 over his first 10 games. He soon cooled considerably. Since being moved to the top of the order, however, India is back on the beam. He’s hitting .357 with a 1.076 OPS for June.

Meanwhile, Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker keeping on trucking. The corner outfielders are No. 1 (Castellanos, .347) and No. 3 (Winker, .342) in hitting in MLB. Castellanos is tied for the lead in hits (85). Winker is second in slugging percentage (.631).

Gray, Senzel, Moustakas out with injuries

The Reds have surged even with key components on the injured list. Pitching ace Sonny Gray is out with a groin injury. Promising reliever Tejay Antone is on the 10-day IL. Oft-injured center fielder Nick Senzel is on the 60-day IL after knee surgery. Moustakas hasn’t played since May 18 because of a heel injury. Expected starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen has yet to pitch this season.

The Reds’ Achilles has been its bullpen, last in the majors with a 5.70 ERA. That’s where Greene could come into play. The California native has been a starting pitcher since being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He consistently hits 100-plus miles per hour on the radar gun. In 68 1/3 innings at AA Chattanooga, Greene stuck out 89 batters, or 11.7 per nine innings. If ready, he could be wicked as a short-term closer.

There are still miles to go, of course, but Bell deserves props, as well. The manager has kept a steady hand steering the ship. Patience is paying off. Midway through June, the Reds could actually be worth watching.

The Reds might be disappointing, but not their new TV play-by-play man

Addition of Ole Miss linebacker just what Kentucky football needed for 2021

Lance Ware wants to be an answer man for this Kentucky basketball team

One notable statistic for several notable Kentucky football players heading into 2021

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting