Monday, July 1, 2013

Reds struggling against good competition


Despite the recent woes for the Reds, the team still remains in a great position to make the playoffs. Entering play on Monday, Cincinnati boasted a strong hold of the second National League Wild Card spot, owning a 4.5 game lead over the next closest contender.

This may be music to the ears of some fans, however, others seem ready to press the panic button, as Dusty Baker's team just completed a 2-6 road trip, and have won just twice in the past 12 days. Furthermore, the Reds have been forced to endure a growing number of wounded players, with five players currently listed on the disabled list, four of which are pitchers.

On Saturday, Johnny Cueto joined the likes of Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Nick Masset and Ryan Ludwick as ailing members of the Reds after Cueto exited his start against the Rangers after re-aggravating his right lateral muscle. It marks the third time Cueto has landed on the DL this season, which is a troubling trend, indeed.

The good news for the slumping Reds is that they get to play their next seven games at home, and the team they are chasing in the division standings, the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates, can't play any better than they are at the moment. With that being said, for the Reds to turn things around and make a strong push for the division title, they will need to begin playing better against good competition.

Simply put, the Reds have beaten teams they are supposed to in 2013, but have struggled mightily against potential postseason clubs.

Entering play on Monday, the Reds boasted a solid mark of 31-10 against teams with a losing record. This includes a 10-3 record against the Chicago Cubs and a combined 14-2 record against the Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, and New York Mets. So, the Reds have handled their business when they have need to.

However, they have not fared well against strong competition. Namely, clubs they may very well see again in the postseason, should the Reds qualify. Sunday's loss against the Rangers dropped Cincinnati's overall record against teams with a winning record this year to 15-26. More importantly, though, the Reds are just 7-12 versus the Pirates and Cardinals, two teams they are trying desperately to stay within reach of. Losing games to those two are especially devastating, and is something the Reds cannot tolerate moving forward, especially if they want to avoid having to play in the winner-take-all Wild Card round.

This could spell trouble come September if the trend of performing poorly against good teams continues. Ideally, the Reds would like to break even against good opponents, and continue doing what they are doing against all the rest, which is win games at a high rate.

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