After flirting with 100 losses last season, the Cincinnati Reds bottomed out. Even if the team remains the cellar dweller in the NL Central, this year has been better and, lately, the Reds are showing signs of actually being a somewhat competitive team.
Tuesday’s win over Texas in the opener of a two-game mini series was Cincy’s sixth victory in the last 10 games. Suddenly, the Reds are just a game back of Milwaukee and escape from the basement.
Cincinnati has gone 22-14 and won eight of 11 series since the All-Star break, so yes, this is definitely a club on the upswing. Overall, however, the Reds’ offense has been middling this year, and the pitching staff has been among the MLB’s worst.
Let’s take a look at some of the Fantasy related stories on the Reds we’ve been following.
Tim Adleman, who enjoyed the best start of his career after returning to the rotation on Friday after three months on the DL (see video below), takes the mound for Cincy on Wednesday. He showed solid command in the minors, but has yet to duplicate that in his five starts in the bigs. A 24th round pick by Baltimore in 2010, Adleman is an option only in very deep NL-only leagues at this stage… at least until his WHIP (1.40) comes down because it tells a deeper story than his attractive ERA of 2.96.
There is likely no one hotter in the game right now than Joey Votto. Remember how he hit .229 in April and .200 in May? Really, throughout his brilliant career, he had never looked worse than he did at the start of this season.
Well, as much as the Canadian slugger tortured his Fantasy owners over those first two months, he’s been an absolute delight to own since.
After another two hits and two RBI on Tuesday, all Votto is doing is batting .455 since the All-Star break. In his last four starts, he’s 9-for-15 and his contact rates this month has been so much better.
Check out his OPS by month: 640 (April); 817 (May); 1015 (June); 1176 (July); and 1177 so far in August. Sensing a trend?
At this rate — especially if the team continues to play well — Votto could challenge his career high of 106 runs, set in 2010. Almost assuredly, he should record his fourth 100-run campaign.
Where would the Reds be without starter Dan Straily? After his six shutout inning performance against the Rangers on Tuesday, he has now gone eight straight starts without yielding more than two runs.
After a solid rookie season in Oakland in 2013, he was stuck in Triple-A for most of the last two years. But Straily’s re-emergence this season as a legitimate major leaguer — and a very solid Fantasy asset — has been one of the best stories in yet another otherwise disappointing campaign in Cincinnati.
He’ll likely set a new career best in ERA, and if he can keep rolling like he’s been lately (2.41 in July, 2.45 in August), he’ll bring that mark well under 3.50 before all is said and done.
Now imagine how good Straily could be if he could deal with his gopheritis.
Back on offense, we’ve finally seem some progress from Billy Hamilton this year. He can pick it on D, that’s for sure, but has mostly been a very frustrating player to own given all his deficiencies on offense.
This season, however, Hamilton has taken a step forward — especially recently. Yes, he leads the NL in steals, but we know he can do that in his sleep. What’s more encouraging is the fact that Hamilton is batting .304 with an OBP over .400 in August. That’s going to translate into a crapload of runs given how hot Votto is.
Hamilton’s issue has always been getting on base consistently enough to take advantage of his ridiculous speed. Now that he’s making strides in that area, he’s back to being a nearly must-own player, and the fact that he can contribute to your team in more than just steals is a great sign.
Cincinnati has built a solid farm system that has started to produce results, but there’s a lot more work to do to return this club to a contender. But hey, at least the Reds are on their way after last year nearly reaching 100 losses for just the second time in the franchise’s 134-year-old history.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which Reds this year have either pleased or frustrated you as a Fantasy owner.
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