Cincinnati Reds: Best and worst of up-and-down 2019 season

Reds start three-game series at home vs. Cubs on Friday

The Cincinnati Reds returned home from California early Thursday morning having blown all the momentum they built during a six-game winning streak by losing the last four games on a road trip to Milwaukee and Los Angeles.

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Three days before the midpoint of the season, here’s where the Reds stand: 36-42, one game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates and six behind the Chicago Cubs and in last place in the National League Central Division.

Here’s an early review of the first half as the Reds prepare to start a nine-game homestand, their longest of the season.

MVP: Derek Dietrich

The first-year Red leads the team with a 1.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Another new Reds infielder, Jose Iglesias, ranks second (1.1). Dietrich also leads the team with 18 home runs despite having many fewer at-bats (218) than Yasiel Puig (17 home runs in 274 at-bats) and Eugenio Suarez (16 in 287).

Top starter: Luis Castillo

Although his last outing (four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings Saturday at Milwaukee) was one of his worst, Castillo leads with a 7-2 record and 2.56 ERA in 16 starts.

Top reliever: Amir Garrett

With a 1.80 ERA in 39 appearances, Garrett leads a bullpen that ranks first in the National League in ERA (3.47).

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Most disappointing hitter: Joey Votto

Although Tucker Barnhart (.191 average) or Jose Peraza (.221) would be easy picks, it's hard to overlook Votto, who was hitting .208 as late as May 22. By raising his average to .257 in the last month, Votto has overcome a slow start, but that's still well short of his average last season (.284) and a long way from where he was in 2017 (.320). His on-base percentage has declined from .417 in 2018 to .353, which would be the lowest mark of his career if it stands.

Most disappointing reliever: Raisel Iglesias

The Reds closer gave up four earned runs in the eighth inning Wednesday as the Angels broke open a tie game and beat the Reds 5-1 for the second straight night. Iglesias, who often has entered games in the eighth inning because manager David Bell wants him pitching in the most important situations, saw his record fall to 1-7 and his ERA climb to 3.86. He has had an ERA under 2.60 the last three seasons.

Top rookie: Nick Senzel

Since his big-league debut on May 3, he's hitting .270 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. He ranks second on the team with seven stolen bases.

Low point of season: April 8

The Reds fell to 1-8 with a 7-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was their eighth straight loss since a 5-3 victory on Opening Day against the Pirates. The Reds owned the worst team batting average (.170) in baseball through the first nine games and had a 30-inning scoring drought at one point during the skid.

High point of season: June 21

The Reds beat the Brewers 11-7 to improve to 36-38. It was their sixth straight victory, and they stood 4½ games behind the Cubs.

Worst game: May 4

The Reds blew an 8-0 lead and lost 12-11 to the San Francisco Giants in 11 innings at Great American Ball Park. Five straight relievers allowed runs in this game: Wandy Peralta, Michael Lorenzen, Garrett, Iglesias and Jared Hughes.

Best game: June 19

The Reds completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 3-2 walk-off victory. A two-out RBI single by Senzel tied the game in the ninth, and the next batter, Jesse Winker, won the game a single that scored Senzel.


Cubs at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

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