As the Cardinals and Pirates have spent the last two months flip-flopping in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds were hovering about 6 games back. Well, after winning 8 of 10 and 4 in a row, the Reds are suddenly just a half game behind the Cardinals and 3.5 behind the 1st place Pirates.
Not only that, but the schedule shows that this might be the perfect time for the Reds to get hot and make a move. The Reds start a 4 game series with the Brewers today, while the Pirates and Cardinals wrap up their 3 game series in St. Louis. Then, the schedules seem to give the Reds a good opening.
Following the conclusion of the Pittsburgh series, the Cardinals have two favorable matchups against the Cubs (who just took 2 of 3 from the Cardinals) and Brewers. However, following the Brewers series, the Cardinals have an absolutely brutal stretch, which they play 17 straight games against the Braves, Pirates, and Reds.
As for the Pirates, after leaving St. Louis, the Pirates go home for a quick home stand against the red hot Diamondbacks, before heading out West. Granted, the Padres and Giants have not played well this year, but the Pirates will be on the road (which they have been mediocre) against a division (the NL West) which they are 8-10 against this year. Plus, the Rockies and Padres have both been good at home this year.
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As for the Reds, after their 4 game series in Milwaukee, they head home for a 7 game home stand against the subpar Brewers and Dbacks. Neither of who have been good on the road.
The point is, the Reds may have underachieved for stretches so far this year, but they can make all of that a distant memory if they take advantage of the next few weeks.
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