Reds Thoughts – A Disappointing End

A recap of the Cincinnati Reds disappointing Wild Card performance and season.

When it mattered the most, the Cincinnati Reds played their worst baseball of the season, capped off by a pathetic effort in the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates jumped on the Reds early, tagging Johnny Cueto for 4 runs in 3.1 innings. The offense had some chances, most notably in the 4th inning, only down 3, when Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Ludwick got on base with no outs. Unfortauntely, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto failed to drive them in or move them over. Jay Bruce managed to salvage the inning with a 2-out RBI, but a big inning turned into almost nothing and that was all Francisco Liriano would give up.

Phillips and Votto in-particular were not good on Tuesday night, going 0-8 combined. When your best hitters don’t hit in the biggest game of the season, it’s tough to win.

After securing a spot in the Wild Card game, the Reds lost their last five games of the regular season, two to the lowly New York Mets, before dropping three straight to the Pirates prior to Tuesday’s “win or go home” situation.

Hopes were high prior to this season. The core of a 97 win team was back with a major addition in Choo, who would correct all their lead off problems. The 2-0 Divisional collapse to the San Francisco Giants was behind them and they were ready to move on with one of the most talented teams in baseball.

The regular season didn’t go so well, thanks in large part to injuries. Cueto couldn’t anchor the rotation and give the team a quality start every 5 days, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton couldn’t be that easy bridge to Aroldis Chapman, and Ryan Ludwick couldn’t be the right-handed buffer between Votto and Bruce in the line-up.

Still, despite the injuries and an extremely competitive division, the team made the playoffs. All you need to do is get in, right? It’s all about getting hot at the right time. Unfortunately the Reds got hot at the wrong end of the month. They started September well, but ended terribly.

Changes will be coming this off season.

Shin-Soo Choo may or may not be back depending on his asking price. If he isn’t re-signed, Billy Hamilton will take over in center field and from the lead off position. Honestly, while Choo was everything the team could’ve asked for this year, I wouldn’t be upset to see him go. If he is going to be re-signed, I’d still like to see Hamilton start in center and Choo move to left, putting Ryan Ludwick as the odd man out. The other big change will be the likely departure of Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo was a nice veteran to have around, but he’s an inconsistent .500 pitcher. With him gone, Tony Cingrani will become the 5th man in the rotation and he had a strong showing as a starter when Cueto went down.

The other big change might be to the manager. I wanted Dusty Baker gone after last year’s collapse, but I understood the reason why he was kept around. It’s tough to fire a manager that just won 97 games. But this year the team went backwards despite having more talent and Dusty is who he is. He’s a nice guy that the players seem to like, but he’s a terrible situational manager and his teams never get over the hump. It’s just fact at this point. The Reds need new life in the dugout.

Anything short of the NLCS would’ve been a disappointing season given the improvement the team made in the off-season. So going down with minimal fight in the Wild Card game against a team that hadn’t won a playoff game in over 20 years definitely makes this year a disappointment for the Reds and fans.

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