The Cincinnati Reds are currently sitting atop the NL Central and considered by most, "The surprise team in 2010." However, the season is only half over and we are approaching the All Star break. In return, the most common thought among Reds fans and the league is, will the Reds be able to keep winning?
At initial thought, most fans would scoff and say, "The Reds notoriously have been starting off hot and then fade." As of late, that has been the case, but the Reds have a very talented group of core youngsters that are carrying the team. Last year, hitting was the biggest issue for the Reds, but thanks to the continuing emergence of Joey Votto, the continued great play from Brandon Phillips, and Scott Rolen returning to form, they are solving that issue.
The Reds made very little effort to improve the hitting last offseason, but maybe they were onto something. Three everyday hitters have a batting average over .300 and Jay Bruce upped his average from .223 last year to currently, .277.
In order for the Reds to have continued success, the hot hitting has to continue and develop into their regular hitting.
Ah, and pitching, another major aspect of the game, has been coming around for Cincy, especially the starting pitching. Mike Leake, the rookie from Arizona State, never played an inning in the minors and is proving to not be a mistake. He didn't lose one game in his first 11 starts.
The Reds also have depth in the starting pitching. Travis Wood, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, and Johnny Cueto round out the rest of the pitching staff to give them a solid core. Homer Bailey has been in the rotation but caught the injury bug. Edinson Volquez, an All Star two years removed, is close to coming back and with some added progression, Cuban flamethrower Aroldis Chapman may be ready to enter the bigs as a starter or even possibly a reliever. The starters have pitched more innings than the rest of the NL.
Relief pitching has been the cause for concern as of late. Other than Arthur Rhodes and Fransisco Cordero's give up a lead and save it while still up one run tactics, there aren't any other consistent relievers.
The Reds also boast the best fielding percentage tied with three other teams at .990.
The rest of the Reds season looks pretty bright especially with them in the hunt for Cliff Lee. If they acquired Lee, it would open more options to move players to the bullpen to give them more depth or even trade off some starting pitching for relievers.
The biggest question is if the hitting holds up, which looks promising, however, don't be surprised if Rolen lands a stint on the DL. If that happens, they will take a hit but their pitching should hold them together.
Bottom Line: The Reds have a good chance of making the playoffs with the depth they have, which also could be used to trade away and get stronger up front.