Reds Playing Above Early Expectations

The Cincinnati Reds are playing sound baseball early. During the current home stand, the Reds are 4-1. That mark has helped them hold onto a first place tie with their arch rivals. The Pittsburgh Pirates are favored to win the National League Central Division and move on to the World Series. So, why are they having difficulties with the lowly Reds? Cincinnati is playing well early, but that may change. Reds fans are hoping it doesn’t.

Per the Vegas Insider, the Pirates odds of winning the World Series are 16-to-1. Reds brass is looking at a 150-to-1 chance. As far as the division goes, the odds aren’t much better. The Pirates and Reds chime in at 9-to-1 and 80-to-1, respectively. For some strange reason, Reds players haven’t gotten the memo that they shouldn’t be playing at such a competitive clip.

Being tied for first place – early in the season – is no guarantee that the Reds will have another wire-to-wire miracle year. The team has to make the cycle and get acquainted with the arms they’ll be facing. Once the formalities of playing other teams and deciphering strengths and weaknesses are over, the real season gets underway.

Reds Playing
[Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]
As for now, the Reds are not living up to their spring training moniker of being loveable losers. After finishing last in the Central Division, President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty had seen enough. He blew up the roster and decided to invest in a total rebuilding of the franchise.

The numbers from Baseball Reference show the Reds’ futility. They finished a dismal 36 games out of first place and threatened to lose 100 games. The Philadelphia Phillies were the only team to produce a worse record in the National League.

The Reds had their share of bad luck, against the schedule. But playing the Pirates got a rise out of Cincinnati. Reds fans witnessed their team post an 11-8 mark against the men from Pittsburgh. They posted the most Ws against their rivals in Black and Gold. There seems to be some kind of dislike between Cincinnati and The ‘Burgh.

The rivalry has started early and the Reds seem to be ready for the challenge. The two teams play a rubber match on Sunday afternoon to break the three-way tie for first place.

The Reds sent the Pirates to their first loss in style. Raisel Iglesias is slowly evolving into what seems like the ace of the pitching staff. For fans who were bemoaning the loss of Johnny Cueto, his early emergence is a true blessing from the baseball gods.

Reds Playing
[Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]
The right-hander turned in another strong performance and earned his first win of the season. He worked 5.2 innings, struck out five and gave up just one run. In two games, Iglesias has struck out 12 batters in 11.2 innings pitched. He’s sporting a 1.37 WHIP and a sparkling 2.31 ERA. Not a bad job, for a last-minute replacement.

Eugenio Suarez has been another bright spot, during the Reds 4-1 start. Manager Bryan Price moved him from shortstop to fill the opening at third base after Todd Frazier was traded. He’s pleased with his development.

“I think he’s already special, not just because of what he’s doing offensively, but the way he transitioned from being an everyday shortstop to playing third base. He’s looking good. I think he’s a dynamic defender.”

The Reds aren’t expected to do much. Yet, they are starting the year with excitement and energy. Walt Jocketty worked the same magic with a south of Cincinnati. If blowing up the roster can give the same results, learning a few new names will be worth the trouble. The Reds started 2015 with four wins and then plunged into obscurity. The 2016 remake looks and feels different.

[Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]

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