The Cincinnati Reds won their fourth straight game last night and improved to 8-3 in the month of May. Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto pitched five innings and gave up no runs, three hits, no walks and struck out four during his second rehab start in Class A Dayton. All signs point to Cueto returning to the Reds rotation as soon as Sunday in Philadelphia.
For a team which was bitten badly by the injury bug in April, the Reds find themselves seven games over .500 and only two games out of first place in the NL Central. Sean Marshall, Ryan Hanigan, and now Johnny Cueto have all returned from the DL over the past few weeks and have been major contributors to the recent wave of success.
Perhaps now would be a good time to give Dusty Baker some credit. With left fielders Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey still on the disabled list, Dusty has done a good job of juggling Derrick Robinson, Xavier Paul, and Donald Lutz.
Rather than panic after losing his clean-up hitter on Opening Day, Dusty has kept the pulse of the team and guided them to the 4th best record in baseball.
The Reds find themselves on day two of a 9 game road trip against three teams with losing records. Is it premature to think they can go 6-3 or 7-2 on the road trip? The month of May was the springboard for a team that won 97 games in 2012. With key contributors returning from the disabled list, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce heating up, and sub .500 teams in their near future, the month of May could prove to be fruitful yet again.
This team certainly isn’t perfect, but nobody is perfect in May. They have suffered too many injuries and personnel changes to establish an identity. That’s why a 23-16 record is so impressive. They have beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and played near .500 ball against everyone else. That’s a recipe for reaching the playoffs. Once they make the playoffs, anything can happen.
For now, give Dusty Baker some credit for remaining calm and collected during a somewhat strange start to the season. Teams often take on the personality of their manager. Watching this Reds team the last few years should prove how valuable Dusty has been in that regard. The players never get too high or too low and they always believe they have a chance to win.
With four of their next five series against sub-.500 teams, don’t be surprised if the Reds surpass the Cardinals by Memorial Day. As previously noted, the month of May has been kind to this team in years past.
Now is the time to take advantage of a weak schedule and healthy pitching staff. Now is the time to make a run. Now is the time to trust Dusty Baker.