Frankie Montas (Major League Photo Day)

by Chris Ball

The Reds Are on a Roll To Start The Season

The Reds had deck stacked against them to begin this year. Injuries to several key players and the suspension of Noelvi Marte threatened to derail the 2024 campaign before it even got going. But so far, the Reds have put those distractions and excuses aside and shown the league that it will take more than a few setbacks to keep this team down.

After series wins over the Nationals and Phillies the Reds sit at 4-2 on the year. And while it’s far too early to draw any sweeping conclusions about what that means, there are still several very promising elements to their start that could be key predictors to how successful they could be as the season continues.

The Reds Starting Rotation Has Shown Out

Injuries ravaged the Reds rotation last year, and the high number of innings Andrew Abbott was asked to throw at all levels of competition took their toll as well as he struggled mightily in the latter parts of the season. Even now the team is without Nick Lodolo as he works to get healthy again, but the rotation has its is currently constructed has more than answered the call.

Through 5 games the Reds’ starters had a combined ERA of just 3.0:

And that number doesn’t even account for Frankie Montas’ start in the finale against the Phillies where he only allowed just one earned run in just under six innings. Montas is on fire to start the season. In his two starts, he has allowed just one run in 11 2/3 innings and has a 0.77 ERA.

There are still concerns about just how far guys line Abbott and Greene can pitch into games given their youth and workload. But the first time through the Reds rotation has been a very pleasant experience that has to give fans hope that these kinds of performances will become the norm going forward.

Lodolo also looked very strong in his recent minor league start striking out eight batters in just five innings. He’s apparently targeting a return on April 10th, and when he returns David Bell is going to have quite the difficult decision of just who to ask to step aside to room.

Elly Keeps Hitting

The hype surrounding Elly De La Cruz is some of the most intense that Reds fans have seen since Ken Griffey Jr. came to Cincinnati all those years ago. It’s a tough burden to bear and the weight of it is ever present as the entire city analyzes and criticizes every swing, hit, throw, error and strikeout that the 22 year old Dominican shortstop offers up. And it can’t be denied that some of his errors in the field make you scratch your head and his approach at the plate has lead to plenty of strikeouts this year.

But the fact of the matter is that he is riding an 11-game hitting streak and isn’t going to give up any time soon. He is a polarizing figure without a doubt but it can’t be denied that this team is at its best when he is in the lineup, as unpolished as he still may be. Patience is key when evaluating Elly this year regardless of the ecxpectations and he’s shown exactly why he deserves to be on this roster in 2024.

Spencer Steer Is Knocking The Cover Off The Ball

Spencer Steer (Major League Photo Day)

Spencer Steer seems to so often be overlooked in the discussions about the Reds’ young stud players. While CES, Elly, McLain, and Marte may get more press, Steer just flat out produces. From his grand slam against the Phillies to his ridiculous statistics (.435 average, 10 hits, 8 RBIs in just 6 games) the man has shown that he deserves just as much praise as any of the Reds best players.

Signing Jonathan India Was Key

Just a few months ago Jonathan India seemed like a beloved Red without a path to playing time. He was an unquestioned leader and a true Red, but many wondered if he truly had the ability or to play significant games and contribute given the plethora of young talent in the Cincinnati infield. Nothing has demonstrated just how clutch of a player India has been than his performance stepping up to play every day in a depleted Reds infield. With McLain out, India has played solid with several extra base hits and solid defense. His leadership and presence will be sorely needed in the coming months.

Christopher Ball is a longtime Loveland resident and an attorney. He graduated from Loveland High School in 2003 and was a member of the football team before going on to become a coach’s assistant at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He has been following and rooting for the Reds and Bengals since the early 1990s and has been through the many ups and downs that fandom has wrought over the years.

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