It would be hard to to refer to any games as a must win this early in the baseball season, but the Cincinnati Reds are treading water right now and have to start putting some victories together. If not, they will not have a chance to make a run once they get everyone back healthy.
The Reds are currently sitting in last place in the National League Central and are already six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Rookie Manager Bryan Price’s club has settled into a disturbing trend of losing each series they play and having to win the last game so as to avoid a sweep. They have avoided a sweep the past two series but obviously that means they lost the first couple games. The Reds need to start winning these series and keeping themselves within striking distance of the Brewers before the season starts to get away from them.
Aroldis Chapman is getting closer to rejoining the team having thrown last Thursday from flat ground. The flame throwing left handed closer reported feeling normal in his motion but there is still no date set for his return. The Reds have a bullpen session scheduled for him Monday, the first time he will throw off a mound since he began his rehab. Chapman was hit in the face with a line drive on March 19 in spring training and still suffers from slight swelling on the left side of his face. Reds catcher Brayan Pena saw no ill effects from the injury after catching Chapman’s session, saying the Reds closer was hitting 97 miles per hour.
The news was not as good for Mat Latos, who could not finish a bullpen session after having been scratched from his last start at Triple-A Louisville. Latos had elbow surgery last October to clean up some bone chips and then had surgery to repair a to torn mensicus in his left knee surgery on Feb. 14. Latos has won 14 games each of the last two seasons for the Reds, making over 30 starts each season and contributing over 200 innings. He made just three starts in spring training but Reds mangaer Bryan Price was hopeful that not rushing the steady right hander back would help get Latos back sooner. That is not going to happen now.The Reds Medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek will examine Latos again before determining what to do next.
The offense has been woeful as well. The heart of the order, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick have combined for a remarkable 42 strikouts already this season and none in the group is hitting over .265. It has not helped that rookie outfielder Billy Hamilton has been even worse. The new lead-off hitter for Cincinnati is hitting just .154 with an on base percentage of .195. That is an atrocious number for a lead-off man and one that Price will not be able to tolerate much longer
The Cincinnati Reds came into this season with high expectations and there is plenty of time to realize those goals. However with the injuries the Reds have suffered and little help from the offense they are barely treading water. That will not be enough they way the Brewers are playing. Price’s team has to pick up the pace soon or they could find themselves to far back to catch up once the Reds do get healthy.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Cincinnati Reds