For a Cincinnati Reds team that started the 2014 season with eight players on the disabled list, the goal was to just make it out of April around .500. Their chances to do that looked bleak in the first few weeks of the season, stumbling to a 3-8 record in the first 11 games. However, some missing pieces to their puzzle have been working their way back to the line up and things have started to turn around for the Reds.
After starting 3-8, the Reds now sit at 8-10 and have won five out of their last seven. A huge factor in the quick turn around for Cincinnati has been starting catcher Devin Mesoraco, who returned from the DL after recovering from a strained oblique suffered in spring training. Since his return, Mesoraco has been hitting .483 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He has been on fire, and been making contact when the Reds need it most.
Another positive for the Reds’ roster on Saturday was that lefty reliever Sean Marshall was activated after dealing with left shoulder soreness that prevented him from participating in much of spring training. The bullpen took the biggest hit in the beginning of this young season, with Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and Aroldis Chapman all going on the DL to start the season. Chapman has been cleared to through batting practice for Cincinnati, and Broxton returned last week to fill in as the interim closer until Chapman is ready to make his return off the DL. Marshall and Broxton are huge set up men for the Reds, so it was a big relief to the bullpen to get them back.
A setback came for the Reds last week when starting pitcher Mat Latos was scratched from his minor league start because of pain in his forearm. A MRI showed that he had healthy ligaments, but a flexor mass strain in the same elbow he had surgery on to remove bone chips during the offseason. This puts him out of baseball activity for 10-14 days, but fortunately for the Reds there were no torn ligaments. Latos’s absence is the most prominent now out of all the players remaining on the DL who were there to begin the season. Cincinnati has been lucky to have reliever Alfredo Simon step up and fill Latos’s spot in the rotation. His solid pitching performances have kept the Reds close in many games.
A lot of people have ruled Cincinnati out as a playoff team this year. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to make it to the playoffs again. Once they have everyone fully healthy, they’ll have one of the most talented rosters in the MLB. Youngster Billy Hamilton has started to find ways to get on base and after manager Bryan Price moved Joey Votto up to second spot in the batting order, Hamilton has been batted in for a lot more runs. Price is going against the grain and making line ups that best suite his teams abilities, and in the long run the Reds will be able to put together a hot streak and contend deep into the season.