Reds hit reset button on first off day after 1-6 homestand

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David Bell interview (May 23, 2021)

Struggles of Suarez, Castillo big reason Reds fallen in standings

Whatever remaining optimism their fans had a week ago, the Cincinnati Reds squandered it with a disastrous homestand.

Six losses in seven games by a combined margin of 50-25 dropped the Reds to a season-worst five games under .500 (20-25) and 5½ games out of first place in the National League Central Division. When the homestand began, the Reds were 19-19 and 2½ games out of first. After a 6-1 start to the season, the Reds are 14-24 since.

Left fielder Nick Castellanos summed up the situation best Sunday after a 9-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

“It sucks, man,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. Honestly, there’s really no other way to put it than that.”

While Castellanos and Jesse Winker, who rank first and second in the league in hitting (.356 and .355), have done their part, there have been few other bright spots. Here are four reasons the Reds have struggled:

1. Eugenio Suarez: The eight-year veteran has yet to break out of a season-long slump. He went 3-for-24 on the homestand. Of the 24 shortstops in the big leagues who have enough at-bats to qualify for the league leaders, he ranks last by more than 30 points.

“He’s struggling,” manager David Bell said. “There’s no question. He’s another guy like Luis Castillo. In some ways, it’s two totally different situations, but they’ve done it before. We believe in them. They know they’re going to come out of it. We know they’re going to come out of it. We need them. Thankfully, they have people here who care about them. We are doing everything we can to help support them through it.”

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2. Castillo: He gave up eight earned runs in 10 innings in two starts during the homestand, and he’s now 1-7 with a 7.61 ERA in 10 starts. He leads Major League Baseball in losses and has the worst ERA among pitchers who have made at least nine starts.

3. Injuries: Wade Miley (left foot) and Nick Senzel (left knee) went on the injured list Friday. Joey Votto (left thumb) hasn’t played since May 5. Mike Moustakas (right heel) hasn’t played since May 18.

“Moose is one of the staples of our team and personalities in the dugout throughout the game,” Castellanos said, “and Joey Votto is Joey Votto. Anytime that we can have those guys preparing to play every day with us, it’s going to give us a little bit of extra confidence and also consistency in the dugout. But injuries happen in baseball.”

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4. No rest: The Reds finished a stretch of 14 games in 14 days on Sunday and had an off day Monday. They start a three-game series on the road against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday and then visit the Chicago Cubs for three games.

“Our team wants to do everything we can to win,” Bell said, “and when you have a homestand where it didn’t go the way we planned, we just have to continue to find ways to keep getting better. But there is a level of confidence from going through things like this before that we can count on. (The off day) will be a good day to reset, rejuvenate and come out and do everything we can to have a great road trip.”

TUESDAY’S GAME

Reds at Nationals, 7:05 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410

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