The Cincinnati Reds entered this week’s series against the Chicago Cubs at home with a great chance to gain ground on the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Pirates on a road trip facing the Texas Rangers, as well as the Cards playing the Milwaukee Brewers, this could have been a chance for the Reds to finally move up past their two NL Central rivals in the standings.
Alas, the Reds lost 2/3 at home to the Cubs, and are now 3 games behind the Cardinals for first-place in the division.
With no games left against St. Louis, their chances of winning the division are lessening each day, but there’s still plenty of time to decide who will host the one-game Wild Card playoff. With just two game separating them and the Pittsburgh Pirates for home-field-advantage in the one-game playoff, the upcoming six games between the two over the next three weeks will be fun to watch as the two ballclubs fight for home-field advantage, at least for one game.
The Reds could also be getting help soon in the form of pitcher Johnny Cueto. Still recovering, Cueto threw 60 pitches to live batters Wednesday in the second simulated game of his comeback from a strained muscle below his right shoulder. Cueto has on the disabled list since June 29, and adding him would be a tremendous boost for a pitching staff already among the best in the Majors.
Left-hander Sean Marshall passed his biggest test since going on the disabled list May 24 with shoulder tendinitis. He threw 23 pitches to live hitters Tuesday, and could bolster a thin bulllpen in time for the playoffs.