Reds keep hope alive with winning road trip

Reds have their best record on Aug. 2 in eight years

The Cincinnati Reds’ playoff chances aren’t great with two months left in the 2021 season, but they aren’t nonexistent as they have been so often at this point in the season in recent years.

According to FanGraphs.com, the Reds (56-50) have a 5.9 percent chance of winning the National League Central Division and a 16 percent of winning a wild card. With 56 games to play, that adds up to a 21.9 percent chance of playing postseason baseball.

The hope is the two trades that brought three pitchers to the bullpen last week pay dividends in the last third of the season and that the team continues to get healthier.

“We’ve got Moose (Mike Moustakas) and (Nick) Senzel going to rehab tonight,” General Manager Nick Krall said Friday. “We’ve activated (Michael) Lorenzen. We’ve got (Lucas) Sims that’s somewhat close. Hopefully, Nick Castellanos is getting there as well. I’m excited to see where we play out the last two months. I think this team is a solid team, and I think we’ve got a chance to make a run at this.”

Moustakas, who has been on the injured list with a right heel issue since May 20, has gone 3-for-6 in two appearances for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Senzel appeared in the same two games as Moustakas and went 1-for-4. He has not played for the Reds since May 17 because of a left knee injury.

Sims started a rehab stint with Louisville on July 27 and has thrown three scoreless innings. He has been out with a right elbow injury since June 24. Lorenzen pitched two scoreless innings in the Mets series after returning from a right hamstring injury. Castellanos suffered a microfracture in his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch in the first game after the All-Star break and went on the injured list July 22.

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The Reds were off Monday after winning two of three games over the weekend on the road against the New York Mets (55-49). They completed a 5-2 road trip that also included a series victory against the Chicago Cubs (51-56). They start a two-game series against the Minnesota Twins (44-62) at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday and then play four games at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates (40-65).

The Twins have the third-worst record in the American League. The Pirates have the second-worst record in the National League.

This is an important stretch for the Reds, who still have 13 games remaining against the Pirates and likely will need to dominate the series to make up ground against the Brewers, who lead the division by seven games, or the San Diego Padres (61-47), who have a four-game advantage in the race for the second wild card.

With back-to-back winning months (15-12 in June and 16-10 in July), the Reds have already accomplished something they hadn’t done since 2018 when they finished 15-11 in June and 13-11 in July. That team had slipped to 48-61 by Aug. 2, however. This team has its best record on Aug. 2 since 2013 (60-50).

The question now is whether the Reds can keep it up and make up ground in the playoff race.

“As we get deeper into this, we all know what we’re playing for even as we stay focused on today,” manager David Bell said Sunday. “We know we have a long way to go, but each and every guy on this team should feel really good and proud of just the way we’ve gone about it all year. I thought this road trip was really impressive.”