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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cincinnati Reds' Struggling To Begin The Season

By David

At 16 and 24, the Cincinnati Reds are dead last in the porous NL Central. Through forty games last season the Reds were 23-17 and two games behind the Cardinals for the division lead. Boy, what a difference a year makes.

Cincinnati possesses one of the best one-two punches in baseball with right-handers Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang guiding the pitching staff. After breakout season's last year, both pitchers have stumbled out of the gates. Despite a 5-1 record, Harang is sporting a 4.42 ERA in nine games this year.

Conversely, Arroyo has pitched well, but his offense has provided him with no run support. The 30-year old is 2-4 so far with a 2.64 ERA and one complete game thrown. The remaining three starters, Kyle Lohse, Matt Belisle and the injured Eric Milton have been ineffective to start this season.

All three starters have ERA's over four and have combined for eleven losses. The only bright spot in the Reds bullpen has been veteran closer David Weathers who has an impressive 1.89 ERA and seven saves through the first seven weeks of the season. The rest of the pen has been disappointing, ranking as one of the worst in the majors.

Offensively, only one hitter, 37-year old Ken Griffey Jr., has a batting average over .300. On the season the ten time all-star is hitting .311 with eight home runs and 25 runs batted in. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion entered the season with a pool of high expectations, even being regarded by many analysts as a potential sleeper player who will have a breakout season, but he is now back in the minors after struggling with the bat. In thirty-one games he batted .218 with one dinger and 14 RBI's.

Although the Reds batters have not hit with great success, by no stretch of the imagination are they struggling. Five out of the eight hitters in their lineup have at least six home runs, but when they are called upon in the big situation they have all come up empty.

Cinci is 6-13 in games decided by two runs or less and are 4-12 in the month of May. They were 1-5 on their recent West Coast swing and have not won a series since the end of April when they took 2 out of three from the Pirates at PNC Park. To make matters worse, the Reds have not won a home series since they took two out of three from the Bucs during the first weekend of the season.

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