By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Well, it took 7 years but we can finally say the Cincinnati Reds will have their first opportunity to fight for a world champion since 1990. A furious flurry of Reds season ending wins launched the team into the #7 seed of the 16-team, major league 2020 playoffs. The team will travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves for a three game series.
If the team is going to advance in the playoffs it will be behind the team’s three-headed monster. Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray give the Reds their most formidable pitching rotation in decades. Bauer, who could possibly get Cy Young consideration, sports a 5-4 record with a 1.73 ERA in 73 innings pitched. He has been the Reds emotional leader and is thought of as the ace of the staff. While Bauer has made the headlines, Luis Castillo may be the most talented pitcher the Reds have had in recent memory. Castillo finished the season with a 4-6 record along with a 3.21 era in 70 innings pitched. He has gotten a reputation around the league as having some of the most ‘filthy stuff’ (meaning variety of pitches) in the majors. If Castillo and Bauer don’t get you, then Sonny Gray will. Gray is likely the most consistent starting pitcher on the staff. Early in the shortened season, Gray himself had his name tossed about as a possible Cy Young candidate.
Power pitching starting staffs have been known to carry teams to and through the playoffs for years. In the mid 90’s the Atlanta Braves could run Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz out all in a row to give teams fits. From 1991 to 1995, Atlanta went to 4 of the 5 World Series winning 1. In the mid 1960’s, the Los Angeles Dodgers could throw Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and Jim Brewer at anyone and expect to win every game.
Mentioning Bauer, Gray, and Castillo in the same breath as the aforementioned pitchers may be at best optimistic and at least laughable at this point. As whacky as things have gone on in the world, let alone sport in 2020, anything is possible.
Cincinnati has not had a professional sports team advance in a playoff setting since the 1995 Reds advanced to the National League Championship Series after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However it ends, it wont be the same. No fans, no boos, no cheers, no painted faces, no nothing. Just players, umpires and cardboard cutouts of would-be fans.
In the end, it won’t matter. A championship will be a championship. Any of the 16 cities that are lucky enough to have their team bring one home will happily accept it.
For Cincinnati, the city has been starving for anything positive. The playoffs is a welcome sight. Cincinnati has not been in this type situation since Barack Obama was entering his second term as president.