Cincinnati Reds: 4 Biggest Concerns Heading into the Playoffs
Although the Cincinnati Reds field their best team in years, they have a few noticeable issues that need to be addressed heading into the 2012 playoffs.
The Reds boast a top-notch playoff rotation, the league's best bullpen, a loaded bench and an elite defense.
Title hopes are bright. Yet, the Reds aren't perfect.
They enter the postseason with several concerns that could hold them back from a title run. Here are the biggest ones to look out for.
Scott Rolen's Poor September
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Scott Rolen, a seasoned veteran and postseason connoisseur, is having one of the worst Septembers of his career.
He hit a dreadful .205 in September with a .250 OBP. He was also benched semi-frequently, making it impossible for him to gain any momentum into October.
Rolen is still hitting over .300 since the all-star break, however, and is a .300 career playoff hitter. The Reds also affirmed their confidence in him by starting him frequently in the final week.
Rookie Todd Frazier lurks on the bench and is ready to step in if Rolen's slump continues.
A few poor games from Rolen, however, could be the difference between an NLCS birth and a first-round exit.
Homer Bailey's Inconsistency
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Although, Homer Bailey immediately established himself as a postseason starter after a solid September and a no-hitter, he's too inconsistent to trust in a must-win scenario.
Bailey has posted a solid overall season with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Coming out of Great American Ballpark, that's not half bad.
Bailey was genuinely horrendous in both June and August, however. He posted a 6.00 ERA in both months, with a .300+ BAA in both months.
Furthermore, Bailey will pitch at home if he pitches at all this series. In Cincinnati, he's 4-8 with a 5.16 ERA.
Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos have been named to the Reds' playoff rotation, so it's unclear if or when Bailey will get the start.
If the Reds can get away with a three-man rotation in the early rounds, perhaps Bailey is better off as a long middle reliever.
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The Reds' offense had by far its worst month of the season in September and needs to get back on track in a hurry.
Despite winning 15 games during the month, the Reds posted season-low numbers across the board.
Batting average dipped to .230 while runs scored, home runs and on-base percentage were all season lows, as well.
Along with Scott Rolen, one of the most notable culprits was Brandon Phillips, who hit below the Mendoza Line and knocked in a season-low 5 RBIs in September.
The Reds are hoping that the September slump was an anomaly and that the offense will be back on track throughout October.
Todd Frazier's Place on the Team
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Todd Frazier has emerged as a Rookie of the Year award candidate, a dependable corner infielder and a future all-star.
Yet somehow, the Reds have nowhere to play him.
With Joey Votto locked in at first and Scott Rolen the apparent postseason starter, Frazier is the odd man out, even with a .273 BA, 19 HR and 67 RBI in limited play.
Obviously, the Reds aren't going to platoon Votto. Furthermore, with Rolen's postseason experience and .300 post-all-star BA, Frazier will likely be left out.
Cincinnati will need to figure out how to maximize Frazier's effectiveness while maintaining lineup continuity.
This is more of a luxury than a problem, but the Frazier-Rolen situation is definitely something to monitor throughout the postseason.