Votto, Bench rake Reds to Dream Bracket win

April 21st, 2020

CINCINNATI -- Have you ever wondered how Reds first baseman might fare against great pitchers of the past? Or how Votto, , , , and members of the Big Red Machine would do in the same lineup?

While we wait for real baseball, we can live the fantasy in the meantime with the MLB Dream Bracket, a project that was created by Major League Baseball and Out of the Park Baseball.

The MLB Dream Bracket is a 32-team best-of-seven simulation featuring all-time teams for each of the 30 current Major League franchises, as well as teams consisting of Negro Leagues Stars and 25 & Under Stars. The 26-man rosters for each of the teams, compiled by the MLB.com beat reporters, consist of 15 hitters and 11 pitchers. For the simulation, players are rated using the average of their three best seasons on a single team. Rosters were constructed with balanced depth to specifically compete in a simulated regulation game.

In their first-round matchup vs. the Expos/Nationals franchise, the Reds won a best-of-seven series, 4-3, setting up a second-round meeting with the Pirates. Here’s a recap of how the Reds' opening series played out:

Game 1 -- Reds 10, Expos/Nationals 6
Votto led the way for Cincinnati with a 4-for-5 game and four RBIs, including a three-run homer off Jordan Zimmermann in the fourth inning. Larkin and Robinson each hit two-run homers against starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, and added a solo shot against Chad Cordero.

Reds starter gave up five earned runs and seven hits over 4 2/3 innings, including home runs to Trea Turner and Vladimir Guerrero. stepped up in relief with one earned run and three hits allowed over 3 1/3 innings for the victory. recorded two strikeouts during a scoreless ninth for the save.

Game 2 -- Reds 5, Expos/Nationals 0
Starter Jim Maloney allowed just two hits and issued four walks over eight innings while striking out seven. and Robinson each hit two-run homers against Max Scherzer during the fourth inning, with Morgan’s drive carrying 449 feet. Johnny Bench added a solo homer against Zimmermann in the sixth.

Game 3 -- Expos/Nationals 2, Reds 1
Montreal/Washington barely staved off trailing in the series by a 3-0 margin with two runs in the bottom of the eighth to rally for the win. Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead in the second on Bench’s homer against right-hander Steve Rogers. Reds starter took a shutout into the eighth inning, but he loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles and a walk. Dibble took over, but he blew the save opportunity when Bryce Harper hit a two-run single.

Game 4 -- Expos/Nationals 4, Reds 3
The series evened up at 2 when Reds lefty reliever Norm Charlton issued a bases-loaded walk to José Vidro to bring home Gary Carter with the walk-off run. The Reds took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth on RBI doubles by Robinson and Davis that sandwiched Kluszewski’s RBI single. In the bottom half of the inning, Carter got one run back with a homer against starter , and Harper tied the game in the fifth with a two-run double.

Game 5 -- Reds 2, Expos/Nationals 1
Foster’s two-run homer against Strasburg in the second inning proved to be enough for the Reds. Seaver rebounded from his rough first game to permit one run on four hits over eight innings with two walks and two strikeouts. The only blemish against Seaver was Turner’s eighth-inning homer. Dibble notched the save with a perfect ninth.

Game 6 -- Expos/Nationals 8, Reds 5
The Montreal/Washington franchise roughed up the Reds early with a 7-0 lead through three innings. Maloney gave up Guerrero’s three-run homer in the first and two more runs in the second while lasting only 1 1/3 innings. Cincinnati made it a closer game in the later innings as Robinson hit a pair of homers. His ninth-inning shot, as well as a long ball by Davis, against Zimmermann were not good enough to complete the comeback, as the series was evened once again at 3.

Game 7 -- Reds 7, Expos/Nationals 0
The Reds closed out the series with a convincing win as Soto (7 2/3 innings) and Cueto (1 1/3 innings) combined for a three-hitter. Rogers gave up six earned runs and nine hits over six innings, including Bench’s third homer of the series -- a solo shot in the fourth. Votto’s second homer of the series added two runs in the seventh, as Cincinnati put the game -- and the series -- away.

In the second round, the Reds will play the winner of the Pirates vs. D-backs series.

Offensively, the Reds' greats were paced in the first round by Votto, who slashed .393/.433/.643 with two homers and eight RBIs, and Morgan’s .385/.467/.692 line with two homers. Robinson led the club with four homers.

On the mound, Soto compiled a 1.23 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over his two starts, and Cueto posted a 1.59 ERA and 0.71 WHIP over his three relief appearances.