The Reds are a little more than halfway through this crucial stretch of 35 games leading into the All-Star break, and by my math they have whittled a couple of games off their win deficiency in relation to playoff pace. I wasn’t counting on them winning more than one game from the Yankees, but I am definitely counting on them to get fat on some fried Oriole this weekend.
While having the Yankees on the schedule doesn’t make things any easier, getting on the same field as the standard of excellence in your sport provides a great opportunity to see where you really are. And, as far as I’m concerned, three things we all suspected became very apparent during this series.
- Johnny Cueto is an ace. He got a late start this season, but since his return on May 8 he has been ridiculously good. He has the lowest ERA in the National League among pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched, and in his last five games he has gone seven innings four times, eight innings once, and has given up a grand total of five runs. I want to Shout It Out Loud that Johnny should be an All-Star. When the Reds need him the most, or when he’s facing a top-tier opponent, he rises to the occasion and becomes a Strutter. At a mere 25 years of age, he is definitely a Flaming Youth, and batters leave the box usually with the sensation of Sweet Pain. Okay. Sorry for all the Kiss references. But you get my point: he is goooooood.
- It’s time to make a change at the shortstop position. We get it Dusty. You’re a “player’s manager.” You want to stick with veterans long enough to allow them to work through their problems. But nearly halfway through the season Janish and Renteria are hitting under .230 combined, and they have already committed 15 errors. At that pace, that’s more than 30 over the course of a season. And no, Jose Reyes isn’t walking through that door. But Zack Cozart could. He’s batting .320 in Louisville and playing solid defense. Granted, it’s Triple-A and not the majors. But we’re talking 90 points difference in batting average. Why not give him a shot?
- There are some dilemmas in the outfield. Heisey was an absolute beast last night. And while one big night does not a season make, I think hitting three homers from the leadoff spot against the Yankees to stop a two-game skid is a good indicator that this kid has star potential. Meanwhile, Gomes is starting to come around again, while the guy that has led off the entire season is daily padding his MAJOR LEAGUE LEAD in strikeouts. Why, oh why, does Drew Stubbs not use his blazing speed? As a leadoff man, your job is simple: Get. On. Base. As for Fred Lewis, buh-bye. You are of no use to me. You can’t hit, and you seem incredibly uncomfortable fielding your position.
But let’s remain positive. Last night’s performance by Heisey earned him a “Klondike Moment of Glory” on the MLB website. Which begs the obvious question: No, not “what would you do-ooh-ooh for a Klondike bar.” These questions: Has anyone ever actually eaten a Klondike bar? (I have never had one. I’ve never seen anyone ever have one.) If no one’s eating them, why do they think we would do ridiculous things to get one? Why don’t you instead ask me what I’d do to get a Graeter’s back into Lexington?