Heading into Thursday’s MLB action, a National League Central team has the league’s best record, just not the one most people expected. The Cincinnati Reds are 7- 2, and are coming off a 5-1 road trip against St. Louis and Pittsburgh, the two biggest threats thought to challenge the Cubs in the division heading into the season. So, how are the Reds doing this?
Well, the answer appears to be with the combination of a solid offense and solid pitching. In the first nine games, Cincinnati has scored 48 and allowed 23. Cincinnati has been led offensively by Third Baseman Eugenio Suarez, who’s batting .429 with 3 doubles, 2 HR, and 8 RBI. Shortstop Zack Cozart has also been a key contributor in the Reds early-season success, with a .417 average, 2 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 RBI. The scary thought for the rest of the NL is that superstar First Baseman Joey Votto hasn’t started hitting yet, with just .171 average, 2 HR, and 4 RBI. To assume that Votto’s numbers will continue to be subpar would be a mistake. The fact that the Reds are winning, without him producing much offensively, should make the rest of the NL very nervous.
On the mound, Cincinnati’s pitching has been outstanding in the early season, with a 2.48 team earned run average through nine games. Lefty Brandon Finnegan is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA through two starts so far in 2017. Rookie left-hander Amir Garrett is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA to begin his career. Six of Cincinnati’s first nine games were on the road, so their pitchers, one could argue, maybe aren’t as good as their early season numbers suggest. Their home park, the Great American Ballpark, is one of the best hitters parks in all of MLB.
Skeptics will start to get an answer tonight, as to how good the Reds rotation is, when they begin a 10-game home stand against the Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago Cubs. The latter two opponents have very potent offenses who will definitely test the Reds young arms.
These next 10 games will show the baseball world whether or not Cincinnati can really be a factor in 2017.