Sidelines with John Clay

What would it take for the Reds to get in the 2018 playoff hunt?

Cincinnati Reds’ Scott Schebler, right, is congratulated by Billy Hamilton after Schebler hit a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Josh Tomlin in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 9, 2018, in Cleveland. Hamilton scored on the play.
Cincinnati Reds’ Scott Schebler, right, is congratulated by Billy Hamilton after Schebler hit a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Josh Tomlin in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 9, 2018, in Cleveland. Hamilton scored on the play. Associated Press

After a surge leading up to the All-Star break, the Cincinnati Reds start MLB’s so-called second half of the season with hopes of maybe even playing their way into playoff contention.

They have to get above the .500 mark first. The Reds are currently 43-53. Last year’s second wild card team, the Colorado Rockies, finished 87-75. To match that, the Reds would have to go 44-22 the rest of the way. That’s .667 baseball. Only the Boston Red Sox, at .694 with a 68-30, are playing that well so far.

Still, the Reds are playing much, much better. They were 8-27 on May 7. They’re 35-26 since. They were 25-45 on June 16. They are 18-8 since.

They finished the first half by going 5-4 on a nine-game road trip. After losing two of three at Chicago, with both losses being of the one-run variety, they took two of three at Cleveland and two of three at St. Louis, prompting the Cardinals to fire manager Mike Matheny in the process.

The schedule picks up where it left off with the Reds playing NL Central teams as part of a 10-game homestand. Starting Friday night, Pittsburgh is at Great American Ball Park for a three-game set. Then St. Louis visits for three games. NL East contender Philadelphia then plays a four-game series with the Reds at GABP, ending on July 29.

The Reds are eighth in all of Major League Baseball in OPS at .746. They are fourth in batting average at .405 and second in on-base percentage at .341. Compare that to last year when the Reds were 14th in OBP at .329.

Some BA/OBP/SLG/OPS splits:

  • Scooter Gennett .326/.373/.521/.894

  • Eugenio Suarez .312/.399/.574/.973

  • Jose Peraza .293/.339/.391/.731

  • Jesse Winker .293/.404/.429/.832

  • Joey Votto .289/.422/.442/.863

  • Scott Schebler .278/.351/.470/.821

Pitching will be the key to the second half. Last year, the Reds finished last in the National League in ERA at 5.17. They are currently 14th at 4.69, though Matt Harvey and Anthony DeSclafani have provided lifts for the starting rotation.

Will Harvey be around after the trading deadline? That’s doubtful. The former New York Met is a free agent at the end of the season and has pitched well, making him a possible target for contending teams in need of a starter.

Will the Reds be a contender? That still seems like a longshot for 2018. But there is hope for 2019.

In 2009, the Reds were 44-52 after 96 games, one game ahead of the current team’s pace. Dusty Baker’s club finished 78-84. Then in 2010, the Reds won the NL Central with a 91-71 mark before losing to Philadelphia in the playoffs.



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