Joey Votto's Cincinnati Reds: Contenders or Pretenders in the NL Central?

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Joey Votto's Cincinnati Reds: Contenders or Pretenders in the NL Central?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

With the season winding down to a merciful end, the Reds are faced with a few hard questions.

The starting pitching has not been getting it done as of late, and that becomes a huge concern. In the three games thus far in the series with the Colorado Rockies, the starters are only giving an average of a little over four innings.  

That is entirely too much burden to place on any bullpen.

The only thing that has rescued them from “sixty-fourea” (a term I coined for anyone resembling the 1964 Phillies) has been the total collapse of the NL Central rival St. Louis Cardinals.

If the Cards had been minding the store, the Reds lead could easily be only three games.

Let us look at some other problems they are currently faced with.

Jay Bruce—what has happened to him? Before his injury, he was the hottest hitter on the squad. Since his unfortunate departure, the team has a record of 3-5.

He had just started killing the ball, as we all knew he could, after nearly a season of disappointment.

With his unavailability, the Reds have been reduced to only three outfielders: Jonny Gomes and rookies Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey. Who would go in if one of them was ejected from a game or, God forbid, injured?

Would it be Miguel Cairo? He has played the entire infield this year but has played a few games in the outfield during his career.

Cincinnati's’s active roster is pitcher heavy. They are currently carrying 16 hurlers—that is a bunch of sunflower seeds to be chewed on. Why so many, Dusty?

It looks to me like there are at least four long relievers in Matt Maloney, Sam LeCure, Carlos Fisher, and Logan Ondrusek. I would think they could slide by with no more than two.

They have three catchers and…wait for it….nine infielders. You have to be kidding me. Who needs nine infielders, especially when you only have four outfielders?

It looks like they have a dedicated sub for every infield position with Cairo thrown in as a “catch all.”

Why would you bring up so many infielders and be outfield poor? How come Wladimir Balentien hasn’t been on the MLB roster? He is batting .282 with 25 HR and 78 RBI at Louisville.

Now we get to the meat of the discussion, the starting rotation. Who should be the five starters that drive this limo to the big dance?

We all know that the first two are Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto, but what about the rest?

Do we pray for rain, then a tornado, and then a hurricane, or what?

The Reds have some good arms in that 16-man staff. Rookie Travis Wood should be the No. 3 man in the rotation, followed by Homer Bailey. Now it gets rough—I mean real rough.

Aaron Harang? Not after what we have seen lately. I see him as the sixth long man out there chewing cud.

Edinson Volquez? Don’t make me laugh, eh?

I can’t help but remember how he started us out in that series with the Giants. Unbelievably, he was warming up as a reliever in the end of the last game there. That would have been ironic for him to start and end the worst pitching series of the season.

I called for his departure several weeks ago, after two very good starts and two piss-poor outings. I was temporarily proved wrong, and he snapped out of it. Now, here we are with him playing American Legion ball in Dayton. He should be stuck in Louisville for the remainder of the season.

I would like to see Maloney get another crack at the rotation. Before he was sent down to Louisville in June, he was doing quite well. In his last start with the Reds, he went six innings, allowing only four hits and one run. He also walked one and had one strikeout.

One thing is sure: There are only 23 games left, and some crazy stuff could still happen.

It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

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