As usual, the Reds scored a victory on Friday night, but it wasn’t the most important one. With a 5-1 win over the Pirates, the Reds clinched their first winning season since 2010 and 22nd in franchise history. Before the game, Reds manager Bryan Price brought up the trade deadline and the elephant in the room: the lack of power in the lineup.
One of the more interesting aspects of sports is the way that players and coaches talk about each other after a win or loss. On Saturday night, Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos took to social media to offer up a string of profanities to a fan who he thought was cheering too loudly for the team. The fan was a Cubs fan, and Castellanos’ frustration was rooted in the fact that the Cubs took out their frustrations against the Reds earlier in the week.
Several teams have emerged as the league’s most consistent performers in the first half of the 2021 MLB season. Others, however, are hot and cold, and the Cincinnati Reds are as inconsistent as can be.
Before the All-Star break, the Reds were on a winning streak against the highest ranked team in their division, the Milwaukee Brewers, and are one of the hottest teams in baseball. Their best player and National League MVP candidate, Nick Castellanos, knows this too, as he sent a stern message to Cincy’s opponents after his team’s last win.
Prior to the final series against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Reds were second in the NL Central, six games behind Milwaukee.
Cinci lost the first part of the series 5-3, but then won the last three games, all by the minimum score. In the third, Eugenio Suarez hit a home run in the ninth inning to give the Reds a 4-3 victory. In the fourth and final at bat, Castellanos hit a crucial two-RBI single in the top of the ninth inning, and Cincinnati won 3-1.
Not only have these wins given the Reds a boost heading into the All-Star break, but they are now just four games behind the Brewers in the battle for first place.
Cincinnati Reds’ Nick Castellanos looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies on the 28th. June 2021. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Castellanos is one of the most confident players in the MLB, and for good reason. He backed up his claim with an NL-leading .331 average, 18 home runs and 59 RBIs; his play made him a favorite for the NL MVP award.
After the Reds beat the Brewers in the series finale, in which Castellanos scored the winning run, he had a stern message for those who hated his team on television.
It started before the game because some clown on TV said some nasty things about our bullpen, Castellanos said on Bally Sports Ohio. Karma in this game is real. So whoever it is, it’s a good lesson.
It’s hard to say exactly who Castellanos was talking about, but Cincinnati.com notes that former MLB player and Fox analyst Nick Swisher said after the Reds’ game against Milwaukee on the 10th. July, who was televised nationally, said the team hit impressively but didn’t throw great. Comments about the Reds’ bullpen were also reportedly made during the Brewers’ pregame show on the 11th. July.
Castellanos may have been talking about any of these, or he may have meant someone else. But if his intent was not clear, neither was his message: Castellanos has faith in his team, even though they have struggled all year.
The person who made negative comments about the Reds’ bullpen has been exonerated, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Castellanos was wrong.
The Reds’ bullpen has the fourth worst ERA in the MLB at 5.15 and has been in last place in the league for weeks. If their assistants had played better all year, Cincinnati probably could have taken the lead over Milwaukee before the All-Star break.
But the Reds have been leading since 1. June at 24-14 and their bullpen has the fourth lowest ERA in the league with 3.17 over the last 30 days, according to Cincinnati.com.
So while the person who suggested that the Reds have poor pitching is technically correct, Castellanos’ feelings are also justified because he clearly hasn’t been following his team’s pitching over the past month.
If the Reds’ assistants can continue to play well after the All-Star break, Cincinnati has a chance to become one of the most dangerous teams in baseball. Cincy’s hitters have scored the third-most runs in the NL, and their lineup is filled with dangerous players who can pop at any time, with five players hitting 11 or more home runs this season and three players hitting 18 or more home runs.
Cincinnati may have its doubters, but the confidence of guys like Castellanos puts the team in an excellent position to get off to a good start in the second half of the year. A successful Reds team will also benefit the MLB, as Castellanos’ play and confidence make him one of the brightest stars in baseball. You should see it on TV.
Stats provided by Baseball Reference and MLB.com
COMPARED TO: Cincinnati Reds star Nick Castellanos used a fan and a powerful hit to criticize MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.