Cincinnati has been building toward playoff contention dating back to the 2019 offseason when the front office acquired Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees. He anchored a rotation that turned into a formidable group with Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani.
Trevor Bauer was acquired in July 2019 as part of a three-team trade with Cleveland and the San Diego Padres. That gave the Reds four quality starting pitchers to build around. General manager Nick Krall remained aggressive last winter by signing Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakas.
Despite having those pieces in place, the Reds looked to be in trouble when they got off to a 19-25 start. They stormed back into the National League playoff race with 11 wins in their past 15 games to clinch one of the two wild-card spots.
Now that the Reds know they will be playing in the postseason, there's an argument to be made they are one of the most dangerous clubs in the NL. Manager David Bell has arguably the deepest starting rotation in all of Major League Baseball to line up how he wants in a short series.
Per FanGraphs wins above replacement, Cincinnati's starters lead the NL with 7.8; the Philadelphia Phillies are a distant second place with 6.4. The Reds staff is also the only team in the league averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings (11.08) and leads the league with a 3.50 fielding independent ERA.
Despite those overall numbers, the Reds have hitters capable of getting hot at a moment's notice. Moustakas is slugging .548 in September. Jesse Winker is having his best offensive season with a .259/.385/.552 slash line. Joey Votto is hitting .230/.360/.514 this month.
If those key players in the lineup continue to hit at that level, combined with the starting pitching they can throw out every night, the Reds are potentially a sleeping giant who will wake up on the postseason stage.