Cincinnati has bounced back from the worst start in National League history.
|Daulton Varsho – DH||Nick Senzel – DH|
|Josh Rojas – 3B||Brandon Drury – 3B|
|Ketel Marte – 2B||Tommy Pham – LF|
|Christian Walker – 1B||Joey Votto – 1B|
|David Peralta – LF||Tyler Stephenson – C|
|Jake McCarthy – RF||Kyle Farmer – SS|
|Alek Thomas – CF||Albert Almora – CF|
|Geraldo Perdomo – SS||Alejo Lopez – 2B|
|Jose Herrera – C||Aristides Aquino – RF|
|M. Bumgarner – LHP||Hunter Greene – RHP|
After the game on Thursday May 5, the Cincinnati Reds had a record of 3-22. No team in National League history had won so few times over the first 25 games (the only AL team with a worse record were the 1988 Orioles, who lost their first twenty-one contests on their way to going 2-23). The Reds at that point were on pace to go 19-143. But then something clicked. Since that low point, Cincinnati actually has a winning record, having posted a mark of 15-13, the same as San Francisco Giants. At 18-35, they no longer possess the worst mark in the majors, having overtaken Kansas City (17‐35), though are still last in the NL, 1 1/2 back of Washington.
There have still been bumps, such as the team still managing to lose a combined no-hitter. But according to manager David Bell, the team needed to learn to play like one, after trades and injuries meant a lot of new faces on the Opening Day roster. “Coming out of spring training, we did have some injured guys, but we did have a lot of new faces. There was a real effort made by our players away from the ballpark, for example.” Among those involved is a familiar face, ex-Diamondback Brandon Drury (top), whom shortstop Kyle Farmer said he has learned a lot from. Drury, who played for Arizona from 2015-17, is actually having his best season ever at the plate with an OPS+ of 112.
The team’s turnaround has been on both sides of the games. From April to May, Cincinnati’s OPS improved by 133 points, while their team ERA dropped by more than a run, and their rotation by almost two and a half. However, the pitching remains a major weakness, with the Reds bullpen having a 6.35 ERA over 17.1 innings in June. Both starters (5.92, ranked dead last) and relievers (4.92, ahead only of Colorado) are among the worst in the majors. It doesn’t help there, that over the past three years, the Great American Ball Park has been the most hitter-friendly in baseball, even more so than Coors Field. So if the D-backs are in an offensive slump, the next four games should be a good opportunity for them to break out of it.