I will admit it. As I watched the first two innings of Edinson’s return last night, I was pretty sure the only thing that had changed for the Reds’ opening day starter since his stint in the minors was his hairstyle. Through two innings, his pitch count was already well north of forty, and it looked like another night of praying he makes it through the fifth inning. It was painful. Really painful.
When all was said and done, Volquez completed seven innings with one run allowed, five strikeouts and two walks. Plus, he had a hit, two sacrifice bunts, and a run scored for good measure. Granted, it was the Cubs (which may have actually been a step down in competition from what he faced in Louisville), but it was a solid outing that offers a glimmer of hope for the remainder of the season.
Speaking of this season, let’s move quickly to the reason Flavor Flav is greeting you today. It’s because the subject is time. As in, if the Reds are going to make a move, the TIME is NOW. Here’s why:
For the second straight year, I sat down with the Reds schedule before the season started and mapped out what I thought they needed to do (series by series) to make the playoffs. (Don’t judge me) I start with the number of wins I think will be required (this year it is 92) and then determine what is needed and what is realistic against each team. For example, I expect the Reds to dominate a team like the Cubs, but I also expect them to struggle at times against teams like the Giants, Phillies and Cardinals.
As a result, it isn’t a simple matter of the Reds needing to win 3.68 wins per week. Some weeks should be better than that. Some will naturally be worse. Coming into the current Cubs series, I thought the Reds needed to have 35 wins under their belt to be on track. They had only 30. At some point, they have to make up for those five losses. And their best chance to do it is now.
The Reds have just begun a string of 35 games which will carry them to the All-Star break. They will face a difficult schedule, featuring a west coast swing to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and series against the Yankees, Rays, Indians, and the Cardinals (twice). However, in my pre-season calculation, I figured the Reds would only be one game over .500 during this stretch. That’s why this is the perfect time to make something happen. If they can get hot, they have a great chance to dig into their deficit.
Their schedule after the All-Star break gets easier, but we can’t count on them to close a significant gap that late. In the 10 full weeks in the second half of the season, I am counting on the Reds to win at least four games seven times. Expecting them to do much better than that isn’t realistic.
So that’s why the move has to be made now. My pre-season analysis required them to have 53 wins by the All-Star break to be on track. I think they need to at least be in the neighborhood (50 or 51) to have a shot.
If not, this may be the only thing to look forward to at Great American Ballpark come September.