All the while, the hitting (already above average) has improved a tad as well over this span with team OPS, strikeouts, homers and runs scored all showing small improvement.
The biggest difference on offense is improved patience at the plate: The Reds lead the league in walks since July 30 compared to seventh in the league for the balance of the year.
READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog”
What’s even more encouraging: Youngsters have led the way in this rise to respectability.
Robert Stephenson pitched six scoreless innings Sunday to finish out a sweep of the Pirates. He has allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his last nine starts.
Sal Romano shut out Pittsburgh over eight innings Saturday night to earn his fifth win of the season. He has allowed three runs or fewer in six straight starts.
Also doing their part until recently being shut down were Luis Castillo (3-7 with a 3.12 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 32 walks in 15 starts) and Tyler Mahle (1-2 with a .270 ERA, 14 strikeouts and 11 walks in four starts), both of whom began the season in Double-A.
The regular rotation’s only veteran, Homer Bailey, has been up and down as he comes back from multiple arm surgeries, but that is to be expected.
If some of the kids turn out to be all right, Bailey’s ability to look like a first-round pick again becomes less essential.
Two games over .500 isn’t going to trigger any parades on Fountain Square, but it’s a heck of a lot better than what came before – and something to feel good about going into 2018.