USATSI

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Cincinnati Reds are a longshot to reach the playoffs. They entered Sunday with an 18.7 percent chance at playing into October, according to SportsLine’s forecast. That number might be an overstatement, too, after the Reds placed right-hander Sonny Gray on the injured list because of a strained back muscle. In a corresponding move, they promoted right-hander Sal Romano from the alternate site.

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Gray, 30, was in the midst of another high-quality season for Cincinnati. In nine starts, he’d managed a 3.94 ERA (126 ERA+) and 2.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His marks were even prettier entering September. In two outings this month, he had permitted 11 runs on 11 hits in four innings. Those performances suggest that he had been dealing with an issue for a few weeks.

Even if Gray is quick to heal, and misses just one start, the Reds are in a compromised situation. They’re three games behind the Miami Marlins for the eighth (and final) seed in the National League. They won’t play the Marlins head-to-head, meaning they’ll need some help to get into the playoffs — a lot of help, even. The Reds will have to go 9-5 over their remaining 14 games to overtake the Marlins if the Fish play .500 ball the rest of the way — and that’s without accounting for the possibility that the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, or New York Mets, the three teams between the Marlins and the Reds, makes a similar run.

After the Reds finish their series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, they’ll begin a nine-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers. The Reds will then finish the year with three games in Minnesota versus the Twins. In other words, the odds appear very much against the Reds ending their playoff drought. 

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