After losing three of four games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati now finds itself 1.5 games back in the wildcard standings (as of Monday afternoon). While Cincinnati still holds a winning record of 68-64, they are certainly beginning to worry the fan base as their inconsistency has become a problem since the All-Star Break.
In order to get back on the right track, this team needs to have a short memory, as they take on the Giants and Cubs and can quickly make up ground. If the Reds want to play playoff baseball in 2023, here are a few things that I believe must happen:
· David Bell must begin managing these last 30-plus games like each game is do-or-die. We can no longer leave pitchers in games to save the bullpen. We are in the home stretch.
· Hunter Greene will have to be the Hunter Greene that we all know and not the Hunter Greene that recently returned to the mound.
· Elly De La Cruz will need to show the league why he is one of the most electrifying players in baseball over this 30-game stretch.
· They have to find a way to take care of business against Chicago.
Let’s dive in to what the Reds schedule looks like to finish the season:
· Reds @ Giants, Cubs @ Reds, Mariners @ Reds, Cardinals @ Reds, Reds @ Tigers, Reds @ Mets, Twins @ Reds, Pirates @ Reds, Reds @ Guardians, Reds @ Cardinals
Surprisingly, Cincinnati has the most wins in the National League Central when playing away (37). They have a losing record at home, which means they have to find a way to get things going at Great American Ball Park. While they have already “hit the over” of their projected wins before the season began, I already feel like it will be a disappointment if Cincinnati isn’t playing playoff baseball. Healthy Votto, Fraley and India need to return soon, as this lineup could really use their bats.
Bengals season soon to begin
How is it already nearly September? Every year I feel caught off guard around two weeks before football season. Cincinnati has its first game against the Cleveland Browns on Sept, 10, which Who Dey Nation is more than excited for. While it is important to never give preseason an over-amount of thought, it was clear to see that Zac Taylor and crew took the conservative approach in regard to not playing many starters in the preseason. I am fine with that approach, yet I hope to not get off to a lackadaisical start like last year. It really is a lose-lose situation though as someone important to the roster could get hurt, which easily turns into a “hindsight 20/20” type of issue.
While I know we all have high expectations for the Bengals this year, the amount of disrespect I am seeing from many fans about the AFC North is concerning. The Ravens, Steelers and Browns all have very good rosters. Each team is completely different and it will be quite the challenge for Cincinnati to win another AFC North title. As long as health remains on our side, I still believe Cincinnati will win the title, but I think some of the record predictions of two losses are a bit extreme. I wouldn’t be surprised if 12 wins would be enough to take the AFC North crown again in 2023.