Reds ‘crawl way out of’ funk and back into playoff picture

Reds move to top of wild-card standings with five wins in a row

Optimism around the Cincinnati Reds has dipped and climbed over and over again this season, reaching a pinnacle in June with a 12-game winning streak but then a low point with five losses after the All-Star break.

Just when Cincinnati fans were wondering if the Reds would command their attention all summer or fade away as Bengals season approached, they climbed back into the playoff picture with five victories in a row.

If the season had ended Sunday, the Reds (55-46) would have reached the postseason as the first wild-card team with half-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants (both 54-46).

“In a Major League season, that’s what it’s about because you are going to have losses,” Reds manager David Bell said Sunday after a 7-3 victory against the Diamondbacks, “and you’re going to have tough stretches even when you win the World Series. Every single team goes through that — and sometimes multiple times like we have. It’s all about how you respond. More important than how you respond to winning is how you respond to failures. I couldn’t ask for our team to handle that any better. It all happened within one homestand really, and now we just have to keep keep going. But we crawled our way out of that, fought our way out of it, and that’s all you can ask for.”

The Reds owned a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central Division on July 8 but then lost six straight games, including the first five after the break. The Brewers took a two-game lead on July 16 after sweeping the Reds at Great American Ball Park and then added a half-game to that lead.

Now the Reds are in position to regain the lead in the division. They faced a half-game deficit entering a three-game series that started Monday in Milwaukee against the Brewers (55-45).

General Manager Nick Krall appeared on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel Sunday with hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette to talk about the surging Reds.

“In spring training, we had a really good vibe with the young players in camp, the young players in our minor league system, even even the veteran guys that were in camp,” Krall said. “It was just a different vibe in camp. It’s been a lot of fun to be around.”

The Reds have the fifth-best record in baseball (46-31) since April 24. The promotion of the young talent that has elevated the team into playoff contention started in May.

“Ever since (Matt) McClain came up,” Krall said, “and then it was Brandon Williamson right after him, and then it was Andrew Abbott and then (Elly) De La Cruz, it’s just been one player after another, and guys gelled. Guys have been having a really good time. It’s been a lot of fun to have the youthful energy. But also you’ve got guys like Joey Votto, who’s been been great for these younger players. He’s a great example for them. It’s been a lot of fun overall.”

The Reds have survived without two of their most important starting pitchers, Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, who have been on the injured list since May 14 and June 19, respectively. Krall said Greene could return by the middle or end of August, while Lodolo could return around Sept. 1.

With the trade deadline approaching on Aug. 1, Krall was asked about how the Reds will approach the need for pitching. According to a report Monday by Mark Feinsand, of the MLB Network, the Reds would be willing to trade second baseman Jonathan India for “young, controllable starting pitching” because of their abundance of talent in the infield.

“You guys know this better than most that you can ever have enough pitching, right?” Krall said. “We all need at least 10 starters throughout the year. Our scouts did a great job finding a couple guys from the independent leagues. Brett Kennedy came up and made a spot start in Washington and got a win. We’ve had a couple guys hurt. Graham Ashcraft tooka ball off the his calf, and then Greene and Lodolo have been out for some time, but hopefully they’ll be back by September and right back in the rotation.

“Overall, I think it’s been it’s been a little up and down with some of the guys we’ve had, but it’s been solid. I think we’ve pitched better than our ERA. There’s some advanced metrics that say our starting pitching has not been as bad overall as maybe the ERAs would suggest.”


Reds at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410

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