The Reds are on a roll. They haven’t lost any of their last six series — discount the two-game series against Chicago. Despite all the successes the Reds have had there are still some things that need to be addressed.
Numero uno: When is Mike Leake going to get off that fat goose egg in the win column? Indications are that it will be soon, as Leake pitched a great game against Pittsburgh last week only to receive minimal run support in a 3-2 loss. Although the Reds have again lucked out in not having to face Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg during this weekend's series, Leake opens the series against the Gio Gonzalez (3-1), the Nationals' number two. The Nationals have received plenty of hype this year between their first place standing in the NL East and the introduction of 19-year-old standout Bryce Harper. Surprisingly, Washington’s offensive numbers are far from gaudy, in the bottom third of major league ranks in three major offensive categories — the Reds are only slightly better.
Secondly, while the likes of Ryan Ludwick and Scott Rolen are still struggling with the sticks, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman have been nearly flawless from 60 feet 6 inches. Wednesday night is a perfect example: Cueto threw seven scoreless innings tallying five strikeouts; Brewers all-star, Zack Greinke was even better, pitching eight innings of 11-strikeout, two-hit baseball. Chapman came in for the eightth and struck out two, including Rickie Weeks with a 101 mph eye-high heater. Sean Marshall came in to close the game but made things interesting with a solo bomb to Ryan Braun and putting two on before Logan Ondrusek got Travis Ishikawa to fly out to left.
Clearly the Reds have decided to save the arm of Chapman for later in the season. He could have stayed in for the ninth, but limiting his innings will keep him fresh. I expect to see Chapman inserted into the starting rotation sometime in July if the Reds remain the hunt for a playoff spot. With clutch performances like last night the Reds can only continue to improve — a must considering their next five series are against winning clubs.