Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 MLB Season Breakdown: Cincinnati Reds

Will the Reds be able to win back-to-back NL Central crowns (their third in the past four seasons), and can they finally put together a deep postseason run in October, let's find out...

A month-by-month breakdown of the 2013 Cincinnati Reds schedule:

The MLB schedule creators make it tough on the Reds, right out of the gate. New this year, interleague play (AL vs. NL teams) will be spread out throughout the season, unlike past seasons, when it was during a certain stretch. With that, the opening home series (once again) the Reds will host the LA Angels, welcoming back to town sluggers 1B Albert Pujols and former Reds OF Josh Hamilton. It will be a good sign to see the Reds win this opening series and start off on a good note. Following the Angels series (3-games), the Reds stay home for three more vs. the 2012 NL East champs, the Washington Nationals. Now, will the Nats be able to continue building on their success from a year ago, with an outstanding pitching staff. Should be some good pitching duels in that series. On the road for 6-straight (St. Louis & Pittsburgh), the Reds need to win divisional games as much as possible. Following the road trip, the Reds are back home for a LONG 10-game homestand vs. the Phillies, Marlins, and Cubbies. Finishing out the month of April the Reds go back on the road for 4-games vs. the Nationals and 2-games of a 3-game series in St. Louis.

April breakdown: 28 games (16 home, 12 away) Divisional games: 11 Projection: 15-13

The Reds finish up the 10-game road trip with one in St. Louis and a three-game set in Chicago against the Cubs over the first weekend in May. Back in the Queen City, for a 6-game stretch vs. the Atlanta Braves and NL Central foe's the Milwaukee Brewers. Mid-May the Reds have a critical 9-game road trip with visits to Miami, Philly, and New York (Mets). Finishing out the month, the Reds host the Cubbies for three, in-state pals the Cleveland Indians for two, then go up to Cleveland for two, and then play in Pittsburgh on the 31st. I usually start getting serious about baseball around Memorial Day, and you get a true feel for what sort of season, your team is in for. With high expectations this season, let's hope the Reds are right on pace with their 2012 form at 55 games (31-24).

May breakdown: 27 games (11 home, 16 away) Divisional games: 11 Projection: 16-11 
Season mark at this point: 31-24

June:Finishing up the 3-game series in Pittsburgh with two to start out the month, the Reds then travel back home for 6-straight (3 vs. the Colorado Rockies, 3 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals). Then a week long trip up to the Windy City to take on the Cubbies for a 4-game series, is followed by series against the Brewers (3) and Pirates (4), both at GABP. June ends with an 8-game road trip out west to face the Arizona Diamondbacks (3), along with AL West teams, the Oakland A's (2), and the Texas Rangers (3).

June breakdown: 27 games (13 home, 14 away) Divisional games: 16 Projection: 15-12 
Season mark at this point: 46-36

Following the west coast swing, the Reds welcome to town a couple west coast teams. Starting with the Reds host the defending World Series Champs, the San Francisco Giants for a 3-game series. The Giants eliminated the Reds from the 2012 postseason in their NLDS series (Giants winning the last three in Cincinnati, after the Reds took the first two in San Fran). A must-have series vs. the Seattle Mariners follows, before the Reds finish out the first half of the season on the road with trips to Milwaukee (3) and Atlanta (4). With a record of 8-6 in the 1st half of July, the Reds record at the break I project to be 54-42. A season ago, the Reds finished the first half at 47-38. This month in the baseball calendar gets broke up in half by the MLB All-Star Break. I expect the Reds to be well-represented with at least four, maybe even five players, playing for the National League squad in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, hosted by the NY Mets. After the mid-season break, the Reds are back at it with a 3-game home series vs. the Pirates, before heading back out west for a month ending 10-game trip against the Giants (3), LA Dodgers (4) and San Diego Padres (3).

July breakdown: 27 games (10 home, 17 away) Divisional games: 6 Projection: 14-13 
Season mark at this point: 60-49

The make or break month in the baseball world. The so called "dog days" of summer and the baseball season, the Reds with a record of 60-49, 11-games over the .500 mark, should find themselves in pretty good shape, heading into a critical month of August. Returning home from the west coast, the Reds play the Cardinals (3), A's (2), and Padres (3). Then go back on the road for a 7-game divisional trip against the Cubs (3) and Brewers (4). Another 7-games at home, four vs. the D-Backs and three vs. the Brewers the following week. August ends with three vs. the Cardinals and two vs. the Rockies on the road. Here's hoping the Reds push out their divisional lead vs. the Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, and Cubs, and are battling the Nationals, and Giants, for the best record in the National League.

August breakdown: 27 games (15 home, 12 away) Divisional games: 16 Projection: 16-11 
Season mark at this point: 76-60

At 76-60, the Reds should be on cruise control at this point of the season, gearing up for one of the most anticipated postseason runs in recent franchise history. If what I have projected before you goes as planned, the Reds should wrap up the NL Central division crown, sometime around the last half of September. September starts out with one in Colorado, to finish up the series with the Rockies. Then a must-have series against the St. Louis Cardinals (4) in Cincinnati. Following the Cardinals series, the Reds host the LA Dodgers (3) and Cubs (3) to finish up 10-straight at home. Hopefully, the 9-game road trip vs. the Brewers (3), old-divisional rivals the Houston Astros (3), and Pittsburgh Pirates (3), won't have much bearing in the overall standings. The 2013 Cincinnati Reds regular season concludes with 6-straight home games, against the NY Mets (3) and Pirates (3).

September breakdown: 26 games (16 home, 10 away) Divisional games: 16 Projection: 16-10 
Season mark at this point: 92-70

Projected 2013 record: 92-70

Falling short of last seasons win mark (97 W's in 2012) by five, the Reds are one game better then their 2010 mark (91 W's in 2010). Looking to make the postseason for the third time in the past four seasons, a stretch not seen in the summer's of Cincinnati since the mid-1970's with the Big Red Machine.