After being on the outside of the playoff picture looking in for most of the season, if the MLB postseason began today the Cincinnati Reds would be in, as they recently moved past the San Diego Padres into the National League’s second wild card spit.
As I write this column, the Reds are two games in front of the struggling Padres, 3 1/2 games ahead of National League Central rival St. Louis Cardinals, and five games ahead of Bryce Harper’s Philadelphia Phillies.
With one month remaining, however, there is still plenty of time for the teams behind Cincinnati to get hot and continue climbing up the standings if the Reds slip up even in the slightest down the stretch.
But David Bell’s Club should feel like they are firmly in the driver’s seat for the NL’s final playoff spot, as they are set to face the second easiest schedule down the stretch in the major leagues.
During the final month of the season, the Reds will play a grand total of nine games against teams with a winning record compared to 19 games against opponents with a record below .500.
Nine of those 19 games against losing teams will come against the cellar dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates who the Reds have beat up on pretty easily in 2021.
Cincinnati owns a 9-1 record against Pittsburgh this season and are outscoring the ‘Bucs by a margin of four runs per game. The Reds and the Pirates will play nine times in the final 18 games of the regular season.
The Reds will also play three games with the lowly Cubs, three against the Detroit Tigers, and four games against the Washington Nationals. Cincinnati should be favored in every one of those games.
A series to circle for Reds fans are the three road games at St. Louis on the second weekend in Sept. If the Reds can take care of business at Busch Stadium, they will more than likely put the dagger in the heart of the Cardinals, and fittingly so considering the early season drama between the two teams.
But if the Cardinals could somehow sweep that three game set from Cincinnati, they could set themselves up as well as San Diego or even Philadelphia with a chance to make a run at the Reds down the stretch.
The downside for San Diego, they have no games remaining against the Reds to try and gain some ground and they feature one of the toughest remaining schedules, with games against NL West powerhouses San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Regardless, the Reds are currently in the drivers seat for that final wild card spit and hold their own destiny moving forward.
If the season ended today, Joey Votto and company would get that final playoff spot but would have the unfortunate luxury of playing the reigning World Series Champion Dodgers in a win or go home game at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers are currently the odds on favorite from Vegas to win the title again in 2021.
Speaking of the Dodgers, the Reds will also host the reigning champs for a bit three game set at Great American Ballpark from September 17-19.
After six straight losing seasons in Cincinnati from 2014 to 2019, Reds fans are ecstatic to be able to watch their team play meaningful September baseball and will turn out in groves to cheer on their team down the stretch of the season.
If the Reds are in town, Great American Ballpark will be the place to be in September!
HD Media reporter Jarrid McCormick covers sports in Mingo County.