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Cincinnati Reds players celebrate their Sept. 27 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cincinnati Reds have it all: Pitching, hitting, and as their manager returns from a stroke, some added motivation to win the title.
Dusty Baker missed 11 games because of an irregular heartbeat, then suffered a mini-stroke (via ESPN.com). The Reds manager returned yesterday to a team that has won 10 of its last 15 games.
Cincinnati’s pitching is strong with Johnny Cueto (19-9), who Baker announced will pitch in Game 1.
Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos will start Game 2 and 3, respectively. Arroyo (12-10) pitched well in September, allowing just two home runs, down from seven in August.
Latos (14-4) has improved significantly since the All-Star break. He gave up eight homers in the second half of the season, compared to more than double that before the break. He was also 2-0 in September and had his lowest ERA of the season.
Homer Bailey, who would probably start Game 4, pitched a no-hitter last week against Pittsburgh, walking one batter and striking out 10.
Of course, there’s Aroldis Chapman, the Reds’ closer who has 38 saves in 43 chances this season and an ERA of 1.51. Cincinnati has all the confidence in the world putting him in to close out games.
As for hitting, first baseman Joey Votto has a .340 average and a .527 OBP in September. Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips and Rookie of the Year candidate Todd Frazier have also been big on offense for the Reds.
With the team's talent and emotions following Baker's return, I expect the Reds to go far in the year's postseason.