Compared to the first half, August has been pretty good for the Reds. So much so that I actually don't find myself too shell-shocked to look ahead with guarded optimism. Even so, I feel like I ought to prepare myself for what's to come. Should I get excited about the possibility of surpassing the Cubs, or prepare myself for the hook in the eye of falling back below the Pirates?
Looking ahead to the next three weeks turned out to be a lot more typing and arithmetic than I'd anticipated (and I definitely wouldn't recommend checking my math unless you want to obliterate the fictional dream), but it was good late-night research fun nonetheless. I hope that the “research” part doesn't outweigh the “fun” part too much, but either way, I'm sure you'll see the impact of the “late-night” part as you read my
PREDICTIONS FOR THE REMAINDER OF AUGUST
8/12-8/14 - Reds Play Milwaukee
Though the Brewers were also swept by their opponents in their series this week, they didn't just roll over and die the way the Cubs did. To be fair to the Cubs, beating people in grand form has been something that the Reds have excelled at this season, when they do get around to winning.
So let's say that the Reds will take two of three from the Brew Crew, bringing their record up to 54-63. Still nine games under .500, but since the Cardinals will be busy taking three of four from the Cubs over the same few days, the end of August 14 will find just a half game separating the Reds and Cubs.
8/15-8/18 - Reds Take on San Francisco
The Giants aren't even good in the NLW, so I think that qualifies them for the category of teams that the Reds can trounce. But this will be a four-game series, so for the sake of conservativity, let's say the Reds will take only three. That'll bring their record up to 57-64, just seven games under.
At the same time, Chicago will be playing Houston, and while the match-up is certainly in Houston's favor, the Cubs are going to be making hay trying to prove that they are not tired, so I'm going to give them two of the games in the Houston series. Milwaukee will be playing in Colorado in a true beer war, and since, if I have to drink domestic beer, I'll drink Coors, I'll give them two of the three games. On the 18th, Milwaukee will start a series at Houston. I'll give that one to Houston, who will not be suffering the ill effects associated with the day after a beer war.
Pittsburgh will be playing at New York. It probably won't work out well for the Pirates, but at this point the Pirates become pretty much irrelevant to the rest of this discussion anyway, so let's just give them last and get on with it, huh?
So the end of the day on August 18 will see Cincinnati tied for fourth place and nipping just a half game behind Milwaukee's heels. They will still, however, find themselves 21 games back from St. Louis, who will have just taken a couple in the series against Arizona.
8/19-8/21 - Reds versus Arizona
The Reds, riding high after sending San Francisco packing with three losses, will stumble against the Diamondbacks. They'll drop the first two, but come back to take the final game, bringing their record to 58-66, just eight games under. The Reds will be continuing to move in the right direction.
During this same timeframe, Houston and Milwaukee will continue to beat up on each other, with Milwaukee taking two of the final three games over an exhausted and overheated Houston club. That keeps the Reds a game and a half out of third. The Cubs will continue to stay close through the rest of the month, but won't get the kind of surge that they'd need to make themselves a factor again, so I'll stop doing the math for them as well.
Meanwhile, the Cards, tired of the tedium of just winning all the time, will drop two of their three game series to San Francisco, just to see what it feels like to lose a series to someone they ought to trample. At a team meeting after the series they will agree that it's scary but exhilarating. They will still be 79-45.
8/23 - 8/25 - Reds Face Washington
The Reds, in an effort to teach them some manners after they manhandled Kenny Kelly, sweep the Nationals in what will turn out to be the start of a 6-game winning streak. They will now be 61-66, unheard of territory for the 2005 Reds.
Meanwhile, the Brewers will play Florida and, after taking two against Houston, will see no reason they can't do the same for the Marlins and bring themselves up to 62-66. They will now be just a half game up on the surging Reds who will be threatening to take control of third place. Reds fans everywhere will be truly overwhelmed that their team is threatening a bona fide mediocre team.
Continuing up the division, the Astros will drop a couple to the Padres who will be riding high on the heroics of Joe Randa who will have finally regained Super-Joe form. The Cardinals will roll over the Pirates, sweeping the four game series, to knock on the door of 40 games over with a record of 83-45 that leaves the Reds still 21.5 games back.
8/26 - 8/29 - Reds are Present in the Vicinity of the Pirates
The Pirates will bring back Craig Wilson early especially for this series, where he will hurt himself again and prepare to move permanently to Indianapolis where he is doomed to remain rehabbing for all of eternity. The miserable Pirates, having just been swept over a four-game series, will similarly give up all four games to Cincy, boosting the Reds to 65-66 and respectability. There will be an odd silence on the Reds blogs and message boards as fans everywhere ponder the existential quandary of what it really means to acheive .500.
At the same time, the Cards will complete a three-game series with Washington and play the first game of a series with Florida. Washington will have shaken off the sweep by the Reds and will manage to take a game from the Cards, as will Florida.
The Astros, apparently exhausted, will lose a couple games and the series to the Dodgers, of all people, bringing their record to 68-62. The Brewers will have been playing the Braves, a team that couldn't lose if doing so would cure Cancer and end world hunger (unless, of course, they're in the play-offs), so Milwaukee will see their record drop to 63-68, eliminating the need for me to do the math for their last series in August.
8/30 - 8/31 - Reds Against the Houston “Did We Really Just Lose a Series to the Dodgers?” Astros
The Reds will take the first game against Houston to bring themselves to 66-66, and then, as startled by reaching .500 as a young child is to realize that his dad let go of the bike and he's riding all by himself, they will crash into the nearest available tree and drop the second game to end August at a game below .500. The end of the month will see second-place Houston with a 69-63 record, just three and a half games up on the Reds.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals will have pulled themselves together in Florida to take the second and third games, bringing their record to 87-47 and leaving the Reds a scant 20.5 games back.
So there you have it: the last three weeks of August are going to hold 14 wins and just five losses for the Reds. That's totally plausible. It's not even a big deal.
September's first week will see the end of the losing season and the sudden establishment of our favorite team into the top half of the division. Amazing. Never would have seen that coming in May. Or even earlier this week.