When Joey Votto went down with a knee injury, the Reds were in the midst of a six game winning streak. Not many would have predicted the Reds would continue that success without Votto in the lineup for an extended period of time.
Votto has been out of the lineup since July 15th due to knee surgery and is not expected back for another couple weeks. Since July 15th, the Reds are an impressive 14-3 in the absence of Votto. Cincinnati now leads the NL Central division by 3.5 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are in town for a three game set this weekend.
The Reds were playing good baseball before Votto went down, but how have they continued that success without their MVP first baseman? It has been a true team effort for about a month in Cincinnati, with the likes of Ryan Ludwick, Todd Frazier, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubbs leading the way for the offense.
The offense has been impressive with or without Votto in the lineup, but the starting pitching for the Reds has been even more impressive in the month of July. The Reds rank first in bullpen ERA (2.59) and second in team ERA (3.37). In the month of July, those numbers are more stunning, with a team ERA of 3.03 and a bullpen ERA of 2.43.
Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos have been fantastic for the rotation over the last month, while Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall and Sam LeCure have been nearly unstoppable in the bullpen.
Ryan Ludwick– After being stuck in Petco Park for parts of the last two seasons, Ludwick is feeling rejuvenated and it shows.
The slugger is batting .339 with 11 home runs and 29 rbi in his last 35 contests.
After two down seasons, Ludwick is back to crushing balls and driving in runs, something he was use to doing in St. Louis on a regular basis.
“I can recall six or seven times. It all happened while I was in St. Louis, but I recall quite a few times I’ve been locked in like this. I’ve found my stroke.”- Ryan Ludwick, courtesy of the Reds Website
Todd Frazier– The rookie, Frazier, has hit .272 with four home runs and 10 rbi in July and has even switched positions. In the absence of Votto, Frazier has played 12 games at first base. Frazier is second in home runs (12) and rbi (37) for rookies in the National League, only behind Wilin Rosario of the Rockies.
Brandon Phillips– Phillips has hit .333 with three home runs and 16 rbi in July, but unfortunately injured his calf Tuesday night against the Padres. Phillips will be out for some time and the Reds will need to survive without two major pieces to their offense.
Drew Stubbs– Stubbs has provided plenty of power since Votto has gone down, hitting five home runs with 16 rbi in the last 30 days.
Scott Rolen– The crafty veteran has done his part at the hot corner, hitting .309 with two home runs and eight rbi in July. The Reds would ideally like to rest Rolen more regularly, but with injuries to Votto and now Phillips, Rolen might be forced into action even on planned days off.
Homer Bailey– Bailey was one of the best pitchers in the entire NL over the month of July, tying for the most wins (4) and second in innings pitched (41.1). In the last 30 days, Bailey’s 2.70 ERA is best on the Reds starting staff.
Johnny Cueto– Cueto is right there with Bailey with four wins and a 2.84 ERA in July. Cueto has been the ace of this staff all season and has shown no signs of slowing.
Mat Latos– Since coming over from the Padres, Latos has not shown his dominant side until recently. In the end of June, Latos pitched back to back complete games. While he hasn’t been as dominant in July, Latos has been strong, allowing two runs or fewer in four of his five starts.
Aroldis Chapman– Chapman has simply been automatic, converting all 14 save opportunities and striking out 30 in 14.1 innings in the past month.
Sean Marshall– The Reds have solidified the back-end of their bullpen with the emergence of Marshall in the setup role. Since losing the closer role to Chapman on May 20th, Marshall has a 1.01 ERA over 26.2 innings pitched.
Sam LeCure– Over the last 30 days, LeCure has allowed only one earned run in nine innings pitched, striking out 10 batters in that span.
After the Reds play second place Pittsburgh, they have 17 straight games against teams that currently have records below .500. With Phillips and Votto still injured, the Reds will need a favorable schedule to aid them along–or will they? The Reds have went against the odds for quite some time without their MVP first baseman and time will tell how much adversity this team can handle down the stretch.