The Cincinnati Reds survived April. That is the good news. The bad news is this injury riddled team is adding players to the disabled list quicker than they can get them back on the field.
The Reds started the season with eight players on the disabled list including closer Aroldis Chapman and three other pitchers, Mat Latos, Jonathon Broxton and Shawn Marshall. Marshall and Broxton were key contributors to the Cincinnati bullpen last season and were expected to do the same again this season.
Broxton and Marshall are back now. Chapman is not but hopes to be soon while Latos is nowhere close to returning. General Manager Walt Jocketty hoped his team would hang on until everyone got healthy. They are hanging on, 7.5 games back but another month like April and their chances of staying in the race if diminish greatly. The Milwaukee Brewers are the best team in baseball and likely not going anywhere while the National League Central defending champions St. Louis Cardinals look to be heating up.
Top Pitcher for April – Johnny Cueto may be the best pitcher in baseball right now. He has pitched 47 innings in six starts, averaging nearly eight innings per outing. Cueto also has an ERA of 1.15 with 50 strikeouts and two complete games. What he does not have is a lot of wins, posting just two so far. Blame that on his team though, Cueto has done all he can and could easily have five wins by now.
Top Player for April – There is not a lot to choose from here. Former National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto is hitting .280 with four home runs and 10 RBI. That is not good enough if the Reds are going to contend this season. Outfielder Jay Bruce leads the team with just 14 RBI and is hitting .220 with 27 strikeouts. That will not work either. The top player for a Cincinnati Reds team that barely survived April is catcher Devin Mesoraco. The Reds catcher is hitting .468 with 13 RBI despite missing over half of the Reds games due to injury. Mesoraco started the season on the disabled and was put back on the disabled list April 25 with a strained left hamstring. Cincinnati is optimistic he will be back healthy when his sting on the DL is over. The sooner the better as the Reds have lost four of five since he was injured again.
The Reds cannot buy a break at the moment. Just when Mesoraco seems to revive this team, he is gone again. A few days later their second best starter Tony Cingranni lands on the DL as well. The Reds are treating this as a precautionary move as Cingranni resisted going on the injured list but he the young left-hander will still miss three starts.
The saying goes that April showers bring May flowers. The Reds hope so as they have survived April with a chance to still make a run. The problem is the showers have extended to May. If the disabled list still includes Chapman, Cingranni and Mesoraco by the time Memorial Day rolls around the Reds will have a hard time overcoming the rain.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Cincinnati Reds