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Sarah's Take: On state of Reds rotation

Despite Dodgers sweep, present veteran leadership shows promise for young arms in Cincinnati
MLB.com

During the 1970s and early 1980s, when teams visited Cincinnati they knew they would have tough competition. Even in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Reds were the team to beat. Now they are mired in a rebuilding period.

This past weekend while unveiling a beautiful statue of hometown hero Pete Rose, the Reds suffered another sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The other sweep came the previous weekend in LA.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, when teams visited Cincinnati they knew they would have tough competition. Even in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Reds were the team to beat. Now they are mired in a rebuilding period.

This past weekend while unveiling a beautiful statue of hometown hero Pete Rose, the Reds suffered another sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The other sweep came the previous weekend in LA.

The Reds got off to a good start this season. Although they have talent, their $65 million payroll doesn't provide sufficient depth.

Many of the Reds' problems stem from their starting rotation, which ranks last in the National League. After a poor three-inning, five-run outing against the Dodgers on Sunday, Bronson Arroyo, a 16-year veteran, announced his shoulder pain might force him to retire. He was a durable starter until three years ago when he needed Tommy John surgery and then shoulder surgery. Making the rotation this spring was a huge accomplishment and tribute to Arroyo's tenacity. It's sad to watch Arroyo struggle when he had been one of the top starters in the Major Leagues for a long time.

Video: CHC@CIN: Arroyo fans Lackey to strike out the side

The rest of Cincinnati's rotation is filled with inexperienced pitchers learning how to succeed at the Major League level. They have decent pitches, but they tend to fall behind to the hitters as they nibble at the corners of the strike zone. The Reds' pitching staff has allowed the most home runs in the NL. It is partly since their home stadium, Great American Ball Park, lets the ball fly out, especially on hot humid days and nights.

The Cincinnati bullpen has been fantastic, the fourth-lowest ERA in the league. However, they have been overused, pitching the most innings in the NL.

While the pitching needs to improve, the Reds have the second-best fielding percentage in the NL. They make all the routine plays while sometimes they make magnificent fielding plays to help bail their pitchers out of trouble.

Video: COL@CIN: Hamilton swipes third for his second steal

The offense for the Reds is marvelous. Although they have scored the sixth-most runs in the league, they can score runs in many ways. Billy Hamilton, whose on-base percentage must improve, leads baseball in steals. Joey Votto has recovered from knee problems which plagued him for several years and the 2010 MVP is tied for the third-most home runs in the league. He has a high batting average and on-base percentage.

A couple weeks ago, middle infielder Scooter Gennett stunned the baseball world when he hit four home runs in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Hitting four homers in a game is rarer than pitching a perfect game. Gennett became the 17th Major Leaguer to accomplish the feat. Before that amazing feat, no one expected much from Gennett offensively. Now people expect him to be one of the main run producers for the Reds. Thus far, Gennett responded to the extra pressure. Sunday, he blasted a three-run homer against the Dodgers.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com.

Cincinnati Reds