Jul 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton (6) triples during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Cubs 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds: A Dark Horse


The National League has been plagued by parity this season. Despite the hot starts from the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers, the playoff race in the NL is still wide open, leaving potential for many teams to make noise in the second half. For a team with veterans and a degree of playoff experience, expecting a second half run is a given.

That happens to be the case in Cincinnati, a team that has qualified for the postseason in three of the last four seasons. In an injury plagued NL Central, which continued to take a deeper turn as Yadier Molina will head to the disabled list for 8-12 weeks, significantly damaging the Cardinals chances of jumping back in the race. As Cincinnati is just a mere 3 games behind the division leading Brewers, the only team without any debilitating injuries as of now could be the favorite to take the midwest by storm in the second half.

Cincinnati’s lack of fortune in the postseason has been a downfall of all three of their postseason appearances, and finding the right group to be able to make a run for the Pennant is always a challenge at the deadline. With one of the best rotations in baseball, headlined by a 1-2-3 punch of Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon and Homer Bailey, the Reds are loaded with a rotation and bullpen that will make them extremely hard to hit come September. An addition of another bat certainly couldn’t hurt, and shall the Reds add another offensive piece, it’s extremely conceivable that they can run away with the NL Central.

The Reds won’t have it easy however, as the division is clearly a four team race, and a pennant race that will get even tougher, with the Dodgers, Nationals and Braves all playing extremely good baseball at the moment. Once Joey Votto returns from the DL, he will join a lineup that features quite the complete skill set. Votto will complement the likes of Billy Hamilton, Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Ludwick, that when healthy, can easily be the best team in the National League.

After firing Dusty Baker following the Reds’ playoff loss to the Pirates last season, Cincinnati is finally recovering from misfortune late in the past few years. Under new management and direction, the Reds have developed a deadly combination of veterans and youth that can easily contend for a World Series come October.

Despite the Oakland Athletics making large strides to prove that they are for real this year, it poses no effect on the Reds eventually becoming the favorite in the NL Central, and perhaps eventually the NL entirely. With no clear team to beat this season, particularly in the National League, the Reds are faced with a unique opportunity to rise above and finally achieve postseason success.

Nothing is a matter of certainty this year, but a late-season hot streak by the Reds can speak volumes by the time October comes around. Will success turn red the same time that the leaves do? Time will only tell.

 

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