A season that began with the Cincinnati Reds talking about World Series goals will hit the halfway point this week with the team fighting to stay relevant.
The good news for the Reds is even three losses in four games in St. Louis only slightly damaged their postseason hopes. Thanks to the expanded 16-team playoffs, the Reds (11-15 through Sunday) still have a 46 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to the projections at FanGraphs.com.
Those odds may keep fans interested in the coming weeks, but the team itself continues to play uninspiring baseball. While the bullpen has received a large share of the blame, it’s now clear the offense may be the bigger problem.
A three-hit performance Sunday in a 6-2 loss to the Cardinals provided the latest example of just how much the offensive production has dropped.
“I really believe sometimes that’s just the way things go,” manager David Bell said, “and if you don’t stay with it, you lose your confidence. I think that happened a little bit today. The last couple days, we hit the ball hard. Today it wasn’t a great day offensively. There’s no secret. We just have to get back to trusting it, staying with it. We have good players. They’ve been through this before.”
While Bell and the Reds remain optimistic, the numbers paint a sad picture.
1. Batting average: The Reds are hitting .207 as a team. That’s the lowest mark of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball. In the last seven days, the Reds hit .156.
2. Hot and cold: Nick Castellanos was the Reds’ MVP through the first two weeks. He was hitting .340 on Aug. 7. Since then, he has one multi-hit game, and his average has dropped to .242. He leads the Reds with 30 strikeouts.
3. Slumping stars: Eugenio Suarez, a .262 career hitter, is batting .149. Joey Votto, who hit .300 or better nine times in his first 13 seasons, is hitting .207.
“Not winning, it’s not good,” Suarez said. “It’s not good. We’ve go to stay together and go play hard every day. Everybody knows right now it’s not our best, but we believe in this team.”
4. Newcomer contributions: Mike Moustakas drove in four runs on Opening Day and has a total of four RBIs in his last 11 appearances. Shogo Akiyama has one multi-hit game in 19 starts and three extra-base hits in 75 plate appearances
5. Catcher issues: Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali have split time behind the plate, and neither has produced at the plate. Barnhart’s hitting .178. Casali’s average stands at .167.
Reds at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410