When a team starts the season with eight players on the disabled list, it can cause panic and put doubts in the minds of fans and players. However, this 2014 Cincinnati Reds team, which did start this season with eight players on the disabled list, including starting pitcher Mat Latos and closer Aroldis Chapman, has been able to keep their ship afloat. The team has hovered around .500 all season and going into the Memorial Day weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals they have a record of 21-24.
Other than Latos and Chapman, the Reds started their season without set up men Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, catcher Devin Mesoraco, and utility man Skip Schumaker. Since Mesoraco’s return from the DL, he has had the best season of his career so far, despite having a second stint on the DL. The Reds have been able to get by without starter Mat Latos, but only because his replacement, Alfredo Simon, has been phenomenal thus far. Simon has gone 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA. You can’t ask for anything more out of someone who switched from the reliever role to the starter role to fill in for the injured Latos. However, the bullpen still has not been the strongest even with the return of Marshall and Broxton but the starting pitching has been so good the bullpen has not seen extended innings of action.
Right fielder Jay Bruce was the next victim of the injury bug when he needed knee surgery on May 5th. He returned to the lineup just 18 days later when he played in Cincinnati’s game May 23rd against the St. Louis Cardinals. Joey Votto is now on the DL because of a leg injury and it doesn’t look like his time on the DL is going to be short. Most teams would freak out when their arguably best player needs extended time on the DL, but the Reds have dealt with that before, back in 2012 and they even managed a 10 game winning streak without him back then, so it’s nothing that they can’t handle.
Mat Latos is starting his rehab assignments this weekend in Triple-A Louisville. Once the Reds get him back, their lineup will be nearly at 100%. This is vital for the Reds getting everyone back by June before the dog days of summer really start to hit. When Latos comes back, Simon will go back to the bullpen, and having him back in the bullpen will make the bullpen just that much better.
With Votto out, the good thing is that Devin Mesoraco and Bryan Peña both get to play on a daily basis. Mesoraco has been amazing on offense, and Peña has consistently hit when he needs to. Having someone to play first base who can try and keep pace with Votto’s bat is the most important issue with him being on the DL.
The Reds are almost back to having all their starters healthy, and just in time where they can really make some noise in their division. After Friday night’s 5-3 win over the Cardinals, the Reds now sit at 22-24 and now sit 5.5 games out of first place behind the Milwaukee Brewers. 5.5 games might sound like a lot, but when it’s only May and your team is starting to really heat up, it’s a very possible feat.