If you told Dusty Baker on opening day that his troops would be sitting at 22-17 and a half game above the Cards in first place atop the central division during the middle of May, I’d imagine it would come as music to the skipper’s ears. The Reds entered the regular season with both Johnny Cueto (shoulder) and Homer Bailey (shoulder), two key arms in the rotation, on the disabled list. And as if it couldn’t get any worse, the Reds suffered an injury to their undisputed captain and everyday third basemen, Scott Rolen (shoulder), who landed on the disabled list in mid-April. But what’s the number one thing we learned about Dusty’s club last season? Never count those “Cardiac Reds” out.
Sam LeCure and Mike Leake filled the two open rotation spots out of spring training and played a critical role in getting the Reds to where they are today. Despite his legal trouble off the field, Leake was able to toss four quality outings and picked up three wins in five April starts. LeCure was never dazzling, but pitched just well enough to keep his club in the ballgame each time out. With Edinson Volquez struggling to find his command, Travis Wood’s atrocious April and the two aforementioned pitching injuries, the Reds are lucky not to be dwelling near the cellar right about now. Give credit to Bronson Arroyo for pitching through mononucleosis and gutting his way deep into ballgames. Also, credit the Reds bullpen for stepping up big by eating innings the starters couldn’t give them at times.
Bailey and Cueto missed all of April but have fully rehabbed their way back from shoulder injuries to give the Reds that much needed jumpstart in May. Bailey is 2-0 with a 0.69 era in his first two starts of the season and Cueto is also 2-0 and has yet to allow an earn run in 13.2 innings of work. In his second start against St. Louis, he lasted longer than any other Reds starter this season by working 7.2 innings. In addition to their strong comebacks, lefty Travis Wood seems to have put his April woes behind him in May, picking up two wins in his first two starts while only allowing two runs to cross the plate in 12.2 innings of work to go along with 12 strikeouts.
Throughout the month of April, the offense was streaky at best. Over the last week it’s been nothing but consistent. The Reds have now tallied ten or more hits in five straight games (May 10-14). Since receiving a day off in the Houston series, Joey Votto has been swinging a hot bat and produced a walk-off single in game one of the St. Louis series and left the field to crowd chants of M-V-P. Scott Rolen, brought straight off the disabled list with no rehab assignment for the St. Louis series, has compiled five hits in his first two games back in action. Stubbs and Phillips continue seeing the ball well and generating runs. New arrival, Fred Lewis, has sparked the Reds with a couple timely hits from the left side of the plate.
The pitching staff is at full strength for the first time this season and throwing lights out; the offense is as consistent as it’s been all season. It seems that the stars are finally aligned in Cincinnati. Watch for the Reds to take off and never look back with first place in the central division.
Cincinnati Reds Yahoo! Stats