Opposite dugout: Reds continue to scuffle in tough NL Central

Manager: Bryan Price (3rd season)


Record: 29-50

Last 10 games: 2-8

Who to watch: RF Jay Bruce (.279, 17 HR, 59 RBIs), SS Zack Cozart (.266, 11 HR, 32 RBIs), CF Billy Hamilton (19 stolen bases, 51 hits), RHP Blake Wood (5-1, 3.29 ERA), RHP Anthony DeSclafani (2-0, 1.52 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 2-1

Pitching probables:

June 30: LHP Brandon Finnegan vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 7:05 p.m., MASN
July 1: RHP Anthony DeSclafani vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 6:05 p.m., MASN
July 2: RHP Dan Straily vs. RHP Joe Ross, 7:15 p.m., FOX
July 3: LHP John Lamb vs. RHP Lucas Giolito, 1:35 p.m., MASN

Inside the Reds:

The following few statistics really depend on how someone views their glass. Those on the half-full side will look at the Reds' 12-15 record in June and note the vast improvement over the team's marks in April and May. Meanwhile, those on the glass-half-empty team will say forget the improvement and focus on the team's continuing march toward back-to-back last-place finishes in the National League Central.

However you view your glass, it's clear the Reds aren't quite ready to contend for a World Series title, at least not this season. Yes, the 12 wins this month are a step up from their combined 17 wins through the first two months of the year, but in a division that features the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates, aiming for a .500 record each month isn't going to translate into much success.

Oddly enough, despite the Reds' struggles, their previous meeting with the Nationals saw the team's offense find its groove. In the three-game series in Cincinnati, the Reds won two of three and posted run totals of seven, six and nine, respectively. That same Reds offense will be on display in our nation's capital this weekend, led by right fielder Jay Bruce, who leads the everyday players with a .279 average and 78 hits. Left fielder Adam Duvall leads the National League in home runs with 22, while veteran Joey Votto, despite a dip in his power production, leads the Reds with a .375 on-base percentage.

To find out why the Reds find themselves in the basement of the NL Central, look no further than their pitching staff, which also ranks, coincidentally, in the basement of the league in team ERA at 5.38 and shutouts with one. The four-game series with the Nationals will feature a pair of right-handers and a pair of southpaws. Brandon Finnegan gets the start in the series opener against Gio Gonzalez. Finnegan has had mixed results this season, posting a 3-6 record with a respectable 3.83 ERA. Finnegan pitched against the Nationals in their meeting earlier this month, allowing just one earned run through 6 1/3 innings in the team's 7-2 win. Friday's starter, Anthony DeSclafani, is coming off of his best outing of the season. During his last start on June 26, the right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and struck out five in a win over San Diego. The Reds' other two starters, Dan Straily and John Lamb, are a combined 5-9 on the year and both have ERAs north of four.

In the bullpen, right-hander Blake Wood has been a nice surprise. Wood is 5-1 with a 3.29 ERA this season and has allowed just three earned runs in all of June. Former Nationals pitcher Ross Ohlendorf is also in the Reds bullpen. The 33-year-old is 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA.

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