Johnny Cueto will come off of the Disabled List and start today’s game for the Cincinnati Reds, and this puts the Reds in a very interesting situation.

When Cueto went to the DL on June 5th, the Reds brought up Pedro Villareal from Louisville to fill the spot of Cueto. The only reason Villareal was brought up was due to the 5th being his normal day to start. On the 7th, Villareal was sent back to Louisville and Henry Rodriguez was brought up so the Reds could have an extra bat to come off of the bench. Then on the 11th, Tony Cingrani was brought back up from Louisville to make a start against the Chicago Cubs.

Cingrani is still with the Reds and Cueto, as mentioned earlier, is set to start today’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Cingrani is definitely the top pitching prospect in the Reds organization and many believe that he will be in the starting rotation in 2014.

The situation becomes even more interesting with the news from yesterday that Jonathan Broxton was placed on 15-day DL. This presents an opening in the bullpen for a left hander, and Villareal was called up to take the place of Broxton. However, there are many that believe the Reds should send Villareal right back down to Louisville and have Cingrani in the bullpen until Broxton is ready to come off of the DL.

The reasons stated by many as to why Cingrani was sent back to Louisville after his first time with the Reds still has not been addressed. These reasons were that Cingrani didn’t have a secondary pitch that he could consistently throw for a strike, his pitch efficiency was not where it should be and that he would have a better opportunity to work on these things down in Louisville.

This writer believes that moving Cingrani to the bullpen will delay his potential as a starter. In Louisville, Cingrani will be able to pitch every fifth day, have more of an opportunity to work on a secondary pitch in game situations and work on his pitch efficiency. These are things that cannot be worked on at the Major League level.

It is understandable the Reds have to think about and do what is best for the team in the short term, but they cannot forget about the long term.

Let’s think about this innings wise, in the bullpen in Cincinnati for two weeks he might get in for maybe an inning every other game, or maybe he would just come in for one batter in a game. In Louisville, he would start every fifth game and in Louisville this year he has averaged 5.2 innings per game. So if he would start three games in that two week span, he would get in 17 innings of work but it would be safe to say that the organization would like see him pitch deeper into games while with Louisville. It is pretty obvious he would get more work while in Louisville, and that is what he needs at this point in his development as a pitcher.

Sure it would be great to have Cingrani in the bullpen because he is a terrific arm, but the possibility of stunting maybe two weeks worth of growth that Cingrani could get in Louisville does not make much sense.

The Cincinnati Reds have now won 40 games in the 2013 season and currently sit in second place in the National League Central. So it is safe to assume that you may be curious as to why there is an article being written about who needs to step up for the Reds. Even with the hot start the Reds have had, they do have some room for improvement.

When digging into the stats of this Reds team, you will see that so far they have been very good, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Brandon Phillips has 52 Runs Batted In through 66 games, which ranks him second in that category. Joey Vottohas a .328 batting average and a .446 On Base Percentage. Shin-Soo Choo has 18 hit by pitches and a .430 OBP. Votto’s .446 OBP and Choo’s .430 OBP have them ranked first and second in that category, respectively. Votto also has 80 hits on the season, ranking him tied for third. Jay Bruce has 20 doubles and that puts him second in that category. As a team, the Reds have scored 307 runs, which is third in the NL, a team batting average of .254, which is seventh, and a team OBP of .335, which is tied for second in the NL. It is safe to say that the offense has definitely not been a problem so far in 2013.

After looking at the offense, the next logical step is to look at the pitching.

Let’s start with the starting pitching. The starting pitchers for the Reds have an Earn Run Average of 3.13, which ranks them second in that category in all of the MLB. They have pitched 416.1 innings so far, which ranks first in all of baseball and is very good thing for the bullpen. They have recorded 346 strikeouts which is fifth most in baseball and second in the NL. They also have a WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) of 1.14 which ranks third in baseball and second in the National League. The crazy thing about these team pitching stats is that the St. Louis Cardinals rank first in almost all of those stat categories. Probably one of the more crazy stats coming from the Reds pitching staff is that Mike Leake has an ERA of 2.76 and that ranks him 19th in MLB. If you don’t follow the Reds, Leake is the No. 5 starter in their rotation. Homer Bailey has 83 strikeouts and that ranks him 15th in MLB.

Now let’s take a look at the bullpen. The Reds bullpen currently has an ERA of 4.07 and that ranks them 10th in the NL and they have lost 13 games which is third most in the NL this season. The bullpen also has 12 wins which is tied for fourth most in the NL. Aroldis Chapman has a 2.17 ERA and has 17 saves so far this season, to go along with 50 strikeouts in 29.0 innings. Another bright spot for this bullpen has been Sam LeCure. LeCure has an ERA of 2.49 and batters have an average of .189 against him.

Even though Chapman and LeCure have had solid seasons so far, it looks like, after looking at the stats, that the bullpen has been the biggest issue for this Reds team. Having 13 losses by a team’s bullpen is way too many for a team that wants to compete for a World Series.

One of the bigger issues has been the injury issues with Sean Marshall. Marshall has only appeared in 11 games and a grand total of seven innings. Now you can’t blame an entire bullpen’s struggle on just one arm, and there have been other guys that have not performed up to what they did in the 2012 season. Logan Ondrusek has had some real issues this season and was recently sent down to AAA Louisville. Jonathan Broxton was set to be the closer for this team coming into Spring Training, but the Reds decided to continue to use Chapman in that role. Broxton has had some struggles this season and currently has an ERA of 4.10. Another guy the Reds were thinking would have a bit of breakout season was J.J. Hoover. Hoover has really struggled this season with an ERA of 5.40 and a record of 0-5. Yes the record of a reliever is very dependent upon the situation that the reliever comes into. However, to have a record of 0-5 and an ERA of 5.40 is bad.

The bullpen is the area that this Reds team can improve upon and make this a better all-around team. How do you improve a bullpen? Some would suggest a trade will need to be made to improve it, but looking at the pieces that the Reds have left after the Choo deal and the Mat Latos deal there are not many pieces left that they are willing to part with. Others would suggest that the team should just stick with the bullpen the way that it currently is and see if they can return to their 2012 forms and become one of the best bullpens in baseball. This writer believes that the latter is the way to go for now but if it continues the way it has been then a move might be necessary.

Over the past couple of games the Cincinnati Reds have been the talk of Major League Baseball, and not for great reasons.

On Sunday in a game against the Chicago Cubs, Johnny Cueto threw a pitch to the Cubs David DeJesus late in the game that sailed over the head of DeJesus. Cueto was warned by the home plate umpire and DeJesus laughed about the pitch.

On Monday in a game against the Cleveland Indians, Aroldis Chapman threw a wild pitch that sailed all the way to the backstop, but caused Nick Swisher, of the Indians, to stare at Chapman until he was ready for the next pitch. The next pitch that Chapman threw was very high and tight and caused a bit of a dust up with the Cleveland Indians.

Chapman vs Swisher

The incident on Sunday would not have been talked about any more after the game, except when the Cubs Matt Garza when asked about the incident by the media after the game, he said that Cueto is “immature” and “needed to grow up”. This sparked Reds Manager Dusty Baker to say that the two should have just ended it with a fight. This comment has made its rounds in the media and has caused a lot of debate.

The incident between Chapman and Swisher has caused quite the uproar as well.

The first pitch that Chapman threw was very high but right over the plate. This pitch caused Swisher to stand still in the batter’s box and stare at Chapman. As any that follows baseball knows, you try to show up a pitcher and chances are very high that the next pitch is coming right at you. The difference here is that the person throwing these pitches has thrown the ball 105 MPH during his career. The next pitch was in fact thrown at Swisher, but the problem was that it was thrown very high and very tight at 100 MPH. The second pitch had the Indians that were in the dugout up in arms, at the top step of the dugout and Swisher having a few words with Chapman. The at bat ended with a long fly ball to left field and Chapman and Swisher exchanged words again when Swisher was heading back to the dugout.

With these two incidents in mind, are the Reds becoming the Bad Boys of baseball?

At this point, it is too early to tell. If they have a few more games like the ones on Sunday and Monday, then maybe. This Reds ball club is good and they are starting to show signs that they know it too; and that is a dangerous combination.

This team is also very close, and Baker is a manager that the players rally around and the pitching staff is very confident in what they do. These three reasons tend to grow a ball club that isn’t afraid of anyone and can lead to incidents like the ones that we have seen against the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

The Cincinnati Reds now sit in second place in the National League Central with a record of 29-18, just one game back from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds are coming home after going 7-2 on the road against the Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. The road has not been a friendly place for the Reds this season as they had been 6-10 on the road. The 7-2 road trip brings them to a respectable 13-12 on the road.

With the end of May in sight, a quarter of the season is over and now would be a good time to look back and look forward. The Reds have had a tough start to the season, not only have they had to deal with a tough schedule but they have also had to deal with some injuries to a few key players. Johnny Cueto was out for a month and a week, and Ryan Ludwick and his backup Chris Heisey have been out since Opening Day and April 29th respectfully.

Even with the tough schedule and injuries, it is safe to say that their 29-18 record is very respectable and has lived up to the offseason hype. Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto have been among the Top 5 hitters in the NL,Brandon Phillips leads the NL in RBIs and Mat Latos and the rest of the rotation have been among the top pitchers in terms of ERA through the first quarter of the season.

All of that, though, is in the past and the look ahead to the All-Star break of July 14th-18th has begun.

The Reds will play 49 games between May 22nd and July 14th, and of those 49 games, 23 will be played against NL Central opponents. This stretch of the season could turn out to be extremely important when it comes to the final standings in the NL Central. The Reds will play five series against teams that are currently in first place in their divisions and nine series against teams that currently have winning records. This Reds team will need to be continued to be led by Cueto and Latos on the pitching side of the ball, and Choo,Votto,Phillips and Jay Bruce in order to continue their high winning percentage and finish out the rest of the first half of the season strongly.

With all of that being said, there is still a lot of baseball to be played before the All-Star break and the Reds can make moves to separate themselves from the rest of the NL Central. Or they can falter or possibly succumb to injuries and fall back. The evidence in the beginning of their season shows that even with injuries the Reds can continue to win no matter their circumstances, so look for them to continue pressing on as they have done all season long.

The Cincinnati Reds’s 2013 campaign, while facing one of the toughest schedules in Major League Baseball, has gotten off to a solid start. Even with their decent beginning, there are a few questions that have arisen for this team. The biggest question has been what to do with left field.

Leaving Spring Training, the roster and the rotation looked like they were both pretty much set in stone. But on Opening Day, Ryan Ludwick injured himself on a hustle play while trying to reach third on a hit. He has been on the disabled list ever since. The Reds then turned to Chris Heisey to fill the void that was created by Ludwick’s injury. However, Heisey injured his hamstring in late April and has been on the DL since being injured. Now the Reds are searching for answers in left.

Derrick Robinson, Donald Lutz and Xavier Paul have all seen time in left field since the Heisey injury. If you are asking yourself, “Who are those three guys?”, you are not alone. Robinson and Paul both started 2013 with the big league team, but neither of them were expected to contribute to this team except in pinch hit duties and spot starts. Lutz started the season in Double-A with the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola, and although he was considered a top prospect for the Reds, he was still a few years away from being called upon to be a full time outfielder in Cincinnati.

Ludwick will be out until at least the All Star break. Heisey started his rehab assignment on May 13th, but he has since tweaked his hamstring again. At this point, it is not clear how much it will set his timeline back.

However, when Heisey returns from his injury, will he be the answer in left? Heisey is a solid player, both in the field and at the plate, but with the recent play of Lutz and Paul, it seems like they may be more suitable options to stay in left even when Heisey comes back.

The next question that has been raised about what to do in left field is the option of trades. This seems highly unlikely as the Reds probably do not have the farm system pieces to trade away that would bring back enough of an upgrade to justify the trade. The trades for Mat Latos and Shin-Soo Choo have taken a bite out of the Reds’ farm system.

There is one trade possibility that could turn into something. It could come from the emergence of Tony Cingrani. Cingrani has been very productive since being called up to fill the void of Cueto going to the DL. This could allow the Reds to be flexible with how they handle Mike Leake and Cingrani when Cueto comes off of the DL. The question still stands though. Would Leake or Cingrani be enough to bring back an upgrade big enough to fill the hole in LF or will the Reds stick with what they have?

Please check out http://www.buckeyestatesports.com to see this article there as well.

Every baseball player and fan enjoys a good brawl from time to time but the one that occurred last night between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres could have been avoided. The bench clearing brawl has been the talk of Sports Radio today and has been all over Twitter and I wanted to chime in with my thoughts on it.

Could it have been avoided? Absolutely and it should have been. Let’s take a look at the situation before the incident.

The score was 2-1 in the 6th inning. With that score and that inning there was no way that Greinke would allow a baserunner to reach base. Some will look at where A.J. Ellis is set up and say that he is expecting the pitch to be down and away and to just miss up and in doesn’t seem like “just a miss”. That’s an ok argument but sometimes the ball just gets away from the pitcher. It happens.

Another thing wrong with this brawl was that Quentin had plenty of opportunity to just walk down to first base.

By the time I did the screenshot of this picture Quentin had taken two steps. He had plenty of time to get over the fact that he got and will continue to get hit with the stance that he has at the plate. He broke the record for Hit By Pitch for the Padres organization last year. Quentin said last night that while he was walking toward Greinke that Greinke said something to him and that what he said was the final straw. I’m sorry but this shows me even more that Quentin might need to grow up a little.

This where some of the blame of the Greinke injury in the brawl falls on Greinke’s shoulders…see what I did there.

With Quentin charging at Greinke at full speed, the last option in Greinke’s mind should have been to brace himself. You have to know at that point that you are going to take a pretty hard hit. He had a lot of options in this situation. Move to the right, move to the left, and push him aside as he charged him.

There was a moment earlier in the game that people have been talking about that could have been a precursor to this brawl. Matt Kemp came up in the first inning and was brushed back off of the plate by a pitch that was very close to his head. I don’t think that the pitch by Greinke was retaliation for the Kemp pitch like I said earlier I think that this was just a bad pitch by Greinke.

Now where this situation gets extremely out of hand happened after the game. It has been reported that Matt Kemp seeked out members of the Padres after the game. I understand Kemp’s frustration on the field but to go after opposing teams players makes absolutely no sense and is actually pretty embarrassing.

To add even more to this brawl, these two teams will play again Monday through Wednesday in L.A. It will be very interesting to see how this upcoming series goes and to see what kind of punishment will be handed down to Carlos Quentin. I can’t help but to think that Matt Kemp will have some kind of punishment as well.

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Now that we have gone through all of the divisions and how they will look after 162 games have been played, I am going to go through how I see the postseason playing out.

We will start with the American League. I think the two Wild Card teams will be the Oakland A’s and the Chicago White Sox. When it comes to one game, I believe in the Oakland A’s a bit more than I believe in the White Sox. The White Sox have the better pitching staff from top to bottom but the A’s have the much better lineup. So I will give the AL Wild Card to the Oakland A’s.

Wild Card winner: Oakland A’s

The next matchup will be Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. This might be the best matchup in the 2013 postseason. Both lineups are stacked from top to bottom and both have solid pitching staffs. For the O’s, the difference makers will be Matt Wieters and Adam Jones. For the Angels, the difference makers will be Josh Hamilton, Jared Weaver and Mike Trout. In a series, I have to give the edge to the Angels.

ALDS winner: Los Angeles Angels

The next AL battle will be the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s. In a series, I think this is an unfair challenge for the A’s. The Tigers pitching staff is too dominant for the A’s lineup and the Tigers lineup is too potent for the A’s pitching staff.

ALDS winner: Detroit Tigers

The AL Championship Series will be played by the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels. Wow. I think the Tigers will end up winning the series with the Angels. Again, I think that the Tigers pitching staff will be too much for this ridiculous Angels lineup. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer will have a great series and will keep all momentum with the Tigers.

ALCS winner: Detriot Tigers

The Wild Card game for the National League will be between the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves. The Braves lineup with the Uptons and Freddie Freeman will be too much for the Giants to handle.

Wild Card winner: Atlanta Braves

The first National League Division Series will be the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals. I think that this series will come down to pitching. I will give a slight edge in pitching to the Reds with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Bronson Arroyo over Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman.

NLDS winner: Cincinnati Reds

The second National League Division Series will be Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves. If the Dodgers stay healthy and are healthy in the playoffs, I think that the Dodgers will be too strong in all aspects of the series especially on offense with Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp.

NLDS winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

That makes the National League Championship Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the L.A. Dodgers. I think this will easily be a 7 game series and be completely back and forth. I think that the Reds pitching staff will keep them in the series. The Reds offense will have a hard time against Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke but I think that Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will be too much for the rest of the Dodgers pitching staff.

NLCS winner: Cincinnati Reds

That makes the 2013 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds. What a matchup this will be! Both teams have really good pitching staffs. The Tigers have Verlander, Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello. The Reds have Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. I have these two staffs as equals so it will come down to offense and both teams have really good hitters. The Reds with Votto, Phillips, and Bruce and the Tigers with Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez. I think the deciding factor for this series will be, for lack of a better term, “role” hitters. The Tigers will be looking to Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson and Alex Avila while the Reds will look to Todd Frazier, Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Hanigan. I think the Reds “role” hitters are better than the Tigers “role” hitters.

This would make the 2013 World Series Champions the Cincinnati Reds.