The first month of the 2013 season is in the books for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds finished the month of April at 15-13 and stand one game back of the division leading St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately, injuries have been the storyline during the early part of the season for the Reds.
The famous saying goes “you can’t win the division in April, but you can certainly lose it”. The Reds did a good job of surviving their most difficult month on the schedule without their starting left fielder, number one pitcher, and starting catcher for a majority of the time.
As of May 1, Ryan Ludwick, Johnny Cueto, Ryan Hanigan, and Chris Heisey are all on the disabled list. With seven games against the Washington Nationals and six games against the St. Louis Cardinals (two of the best teams in the NL) in the month of April, the Reds proved they can survive without some of their best players.
The starting pitching has been sensational. There is no doubt the Reds starting rotation has carried them through the month of April. Despite losing their ace, Johnny Cueto, Reds starters posted a 2.95 ERA and accounted for 20 quality starts. Tony Cingrani has been lights out since taking over for the injured Cueto and the Reds are among the tops in all starting pitching statistics.
Shin-Soo Choo is everything the Reds could have hoped for and more. Choo leads the world in on base percentage and leads the Reds in nearly every offensive category. Through the month of April, Choo has posted a .337 BA, scored 20 runs, and is tied for second on the team with 4 home runs. It’s hard to believe Choo can continue at his current pace, but even a slight decline in production is a huge upgrade over what the Reds received the past few years in Drew Stubbs.
The bullpen is a legitimate concern through the first month of the season. The Reds bullpen posted a 3.98 ERA in the month of April and lost several games set up by the dominant starting pitching. J.J. Hoover appears to have recovered from some early miscues, but Manny Parra and Jonathan Broxton have been horrible. Hopefully the return of Sean Marshall and possibly Jose Arredondo will give the bullpen a much needed facelift.
The offense has been subpar so far in the 2013 season. They rank near the bottom of the league in batting average and slugging percentage and near the top of the league in strike outs. Brandon Phillips has been a life saver in the clean up spot and helped lead the Reds to a winning month. However, with Ryan Ludwick out until at least July, the Reds need Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier to carry some more weight.
Additionally, it still doesn’t seem like Joey Votto is locked in at the plate. Pitchers are so careful when pitching to Votto that he really has to pick his swings and decide whether or not it’s better to take a walk. There is no need to be worried about Votto, but he still doesn’t quite seem like the MVP player of the 2010 season.
The Reds played mediocre baseball in the month of April and still managed to produce a winning record and maintain striking distance in the NL Central. It looks like Johnny Cueto and Ryan Hanigan will return soon and hopefully the offense can produce like it has in years past.
As previously mentioned, the baseball season is long and arduous. It’s full of ups and downs and peaks and valleys. The key is to survive the slumps, injuries, and other obstacles to still be standing come October. As we’ve seen the past few years, anything can happen in October. There is no reason to panic that the offense is off to a slow start, just like there is no reason to believe Shin-Soo Choo will lead this team in home runs.
The Reds have done a great job of overcoming obstacles in the first month of the season and have left themselves in a good position going forward. The Reds will look to build on some positives going into the month of May and reaching their ultimate goal: October.