Friday, October 16, 2015

Can the Reds go from Worst to First in 2016?


by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

Can the Reds be the Astros, the Royals, the Cubs or the Blue Jays in the next two years?

This seems to be the year of revenge for teams that have been bad for the past several years. The Cubs made the playoffs in 2008 and the Astros were in the playoffs in 2005, but until last year it had been 29 years for the Royals, and until this year, 22 years for the Blue Jays.

I left off the Rangers who went from worst to first in 2015 because they have been good for several years and last year was unusual for them.

The Cubs were in last place in their division last season. The Astros lost 92 games in 2014 and were in last place with 111 losses in 2013! The Bluejays were last place in 2013 and the Royals lost 95 games in 2010, 91 games in 2011 and 90 games in 2012.

The interesting thing is that the Cubs made the most by far dramatic increase from last year to this year. They went from 73 wins to 97 wins and a berth in the National League championship series. The Cubs in 2011 lost 91 games, in 2012 101 games, in 2013 96 games. What was behind their amazing reversal?

Five things. Jake Arrietta, Jon Lester, great bullpen, Kris Bryant and the big reason JOE MADDON!

What about the Astros? They lost 111 games in 2013…just two short years ago? What happened?

Dallas Keuchel, Scott Kazmir, Colin McHugh stabilized the starting rotation. The bullpen was outstanding and manager AJ Hinch did an outstanding job. Young players Carlos Correa and George Springer were amazing. They had leadership from Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis and Carlos Gomez down the stretch.

The Blue Jays and Royals have been trending upwards for a few seasons so you kind of saw this coming. Toronto picked up Troy Tulowitzki and David Price to put them over the top. I think the Royals were better last year than this year. By the way, Johnny Cueto sure pitched a great game five. I was happy for him.

So what does all this have to do with the Reds? I see four common denominators for the Astros, Royals, Cubs and Bluejays that are keys to their great improvement. They are….

1. Great bullpens. No one better than the Royals the last two seasons. The Astros, Blue Jays and Cubs all have outstanding bullpens.

2. Great starting pitching. The Blue Jays, Cubs and Astros each have a superstar pitcher, a good veteran and young pitchers who produced. The Royals were the exception to this until Cueto stepped up in the playoffs. But they really don’t have a dominating starting guy. They win with just a plain old fashioned dominating bullpen. Shows you can win with a superstar bullpen and just “good” starting pitching.

3. Great managers. The Cubs of course with Joe Madden, the Astros with AJ Hinch. But the Royals and Bluejays have veteran managers who I think are highly underrated and did great jobs this year.

4. Health! You must have your core players stay healthy to win.

How do the Reds stack up with these four common denominators?

1. The Reds do not have even close to a dominate bullpen aside from Aroldis Chapman and he is not enough if you can’t get the ball to him with the lead.

2. The Reds do not have great starting pitching. They do not have a superstar pitcher or a superstar bullpen to make up for not having a superstar pitcher. (Try saying that five times quickly.)

3. The Reds do not have a great manager. I like Bryan Price but so far he has not shown to be a great manager and he is not trending upward, but in the opposite direction.

4. The Reds were not completely healthy in 2015. Joey Votto was back and better than ever. Jay Bruce played a whole season. Devin Mesoraco was out and so was Homer Bailey and Zack Cozart.

The Reds in 2015 are zero for four in the common denominators with the Cubs, Astros, Blue Jays and Royals and now you know why they lost 98 games in 2015.

So to answer my original question to start this article…can the Reds be the Astros, Royals, Cubs or Bluejays in the next two years? To be honest, I know in past articles I have been very optimistic about the Reds for 2016, but after analyzing these trends, I just don’t see it for 2016 or beyond. Maybe if Homer Bailey can be the superstar starter and maybe if their young pitchers can produce, maybe if they can strengthen their bullpen, maybe if they can stay healthy and maybe if Bryan Price is the real deal. But as of right now the Reds have a long way to go because as they head into 2016 they don’t have even one of these trending common denominators. What they do have is a lot of uncertainty.

How are my playoff predictions going so far?

Well, I’ve only missed one series thus far and that was one wild card game. I predicted the Yankees would beat the Astros.

But I had the Royals and Bluejays in the ALCS.

I have the Bluejays over the Royals for the AL pennant.

In the National League I had the Cubs over the Pirates and the Cardinals.

I have the Dodgers beating the Mets.

Dodgers over the Cubs for the NL pennant.

I’ve the Dodgers beating the Blue Jays for the World Championship.

Until next week,

1 comment:

Darryl Ward said...

Doesn't help being in he toughest division in baseball. 3 teams with over 97 wins. Major changes will be made. Biggest mistake was not getting Joe maddon.