Forget last wekend, call-ups, Votto’s return


Let’s forget last weekend

Last weekend was one to forget for Reds fans as they lost three games to the Brewers. The Reds could have ended the weekend in first place, but after being dominated by the Brewers, Cincinnati was six games back from first place in the division. While it was a weekend to forget, there were still some positive takeaways. It is important to understand that the season is still young and there is still a lot of baseball yet to be played. Looking forward, the Reds will take on the Dodgers at home before heading on a road trip to take on the Cardinals, Royals, and Astros.

Continued call-ups

Cincinnati is continuing to move in the correct direction and all of the city should be more than excited with the recent call-ups of T.J. Hopkins and Andrew Abbott. T.J. Hopkins adds some much needed depth in the outfield, as Cincinnati is in need with T.J. Friedl currently injured. In Louisville before being called up, the 6-1 star slashed a .341 average along with seven home runs. While I am more than excited for Encarnacion-Strand and De La Cruz, let’s not look past the fact that Hopkins was arguably batting better than both of them in AAA in regard to batting average. Abbott was recently called up and is quickly getting thrown into the rotation. Abbott is 24 and a left hander with four pitches that are deadly for the opposing batters. He was mowing them down in AA, impressed in AAA, and is on the fast track to make an immediate impact in the Queen City.

Steering in the right direction

I believe I have used this title before, but it was necessary again as Spencer Steer was awarded the National League Rookie of the Month. Every night before you go to bed, you should be thankful for Tyler Mahle, as somehow we were able to trade Mahle for Steer, Encarnacion-Strand, and Hajjar. This trade will quite possibly haunt the Twins for years to come and it is a reminder of just how important the trade deadline is for teams looking to sell. In the month of May, Steer held a .316 average, .372 OBP, had sex home runs, and 19 RBIs. While his mustache has left, his abilities at the plate haven’t gone anywhere and he looks to have continued success in the month of June.

The return

We are nearing closer to the return of the one and only Joseph Daniel Votto. After recovering from left rotator cuff and left bicep surgery, Votto is currently rehabilitating in Louisville and hopes to make a quick return. Number 19 is needed and the sooner the better for the veteran left hander and future Hall of Famer. I have my fingers crossed that he feels well and healthy, as we all know what he is capable of if so. While we may not have much time left with our lifelong Red, we need to appreciate how much he is fighting to get back on the field, as he truly wants to be a part of one last possible attempt to make the playoffs. Most players at his age would’ve “hung it up” after going through the surgery that he did, but that’s just it — Joey isn’t “most players.”

New era of Reds baseball

As I watched the first game against the Dodgers on Tuesday, I could feel something different with this Reds team. The loud chants for De La Cruz, the walk-off from McLain — you could just feel the sense of hope in Great American Ball Park. But, as I visited Great American on Wednesday and witnessed another walk-off, it confirmed that we are officially in a new stage of Cincinnati baseball. As I looked around the roster on the field and could see De La Cruz, Benson, Hopkins, McLain, Steer and others, I couldn’t help but think of the many “not so pretty” days of Reds baseball. Watching De La Cruz’ moonshot homerun and topping it off with a Benson walk-off for the second night in a row against the Dodgers, it was confirmed that it is a new day of Reds baseball…And it’s only just begun.

Throw that bat Will Benson

I love watching emotion in baseball and Reds Country certainly got to see this on full display Wednesday as Will Benson deservedly celebrated a walk-off home run for his first career big league knock of his career. Benson has worked very hard to get back to this point as he was optioned just on May 23. He even tweeted the following on the day he was optioned: “The lessons I learn from this game I will forever be grateful for. Give your heart to your craft and have a faith that stays grounded through the storm.” Since this recall, I would say he definitely has stayed grounded, as he is batting .346 along with a 91.1 average exit velocity on each hit. This should certainly quiet those that were displeased with his play to begin the season.

The Unicorn

If you have watched Elly De La Cruz and kept up with him over the past few months, I am sure that you have heard him being referred to as a “unicorn.” This is certainly fitting, as I am honestly not sure baseball has ever had a player quite like Elly take the field. Yes, you read that correctly, as I am talking about the history of baseball. The switch hitting shortstop/third baseman, who is in the 99th percentile in nearly every speed category, hits balls harder than anyone in baseball, and nearly hit one into the Ohio River has gave hope to a long awaited fan base. Do you remember when you would create a player on a MLB video game and turn the sliders up to 99 in every category? Well, that is exactly what Elly is. The future is bright in Cincinnati, as Elly truly has the tools to really be the face of baseball.

And it has only just begun

This lineup is scary for all opposing teams as it currently stands, but we are still waiting on the call-up for Christian Encarnacion-Strand. We can’t forget just how good he is playing and how he led the entire MLB in batting average for quite some time during spring training. Once he gets called up, along with the return of Votto, Friedl and Senzel, this lineup will be one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball. While many are concerned about where certain players are going to play, we are reaching a problem that is good to have (too many good bats). Enjoy the month of June everyone, as this month will certainly determine whether we try to “go all-in” at the deadline or if we are still some time away from being true contenders. Enjoy the ride, as this is the moment we have all been waiting on — and it has only just begun!

Matthew McAdow is a Peebles resident. He works in human resources in the nuclear industry and has been an avid Cincinnati fan his entire life. He is an Ohio Christian University graduate and has always enjoyed giving an honest opinion on multiple topics regarding Cincinnati sports.

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