Cincinnati Reds a longshot for playoffs but still in conversation

Reds manager David Bell visits the mound during a game against the Pirates on July 31, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds manager David Bell visits the mound during a game against the Pirates on July 31, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Reds have won seven of their last 10

Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell served the fifth game of his six-game suspension Monday. His team improved to 3-2 without him in the dugout, beating the Los Angeles Angels 7-4 at Great American Ball Park.

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“Last night was a little bit easier to watch,” Bell said Tuesday before the final game of the two-game series. “We got the big lead with Luis (Castillo) pitching, but it’s difficult to watch. It’s easier in the dugout, I think, when you’re closer to it.”

With no control over the game on the field, Bell found himself in the position of a fan, watching on TV, rooting for the Reds but not affecting the outcome. What made it more difficult is his team is still in the race for the postseason.

Even though the Reds have owned a losing record every day since April 1 when they dropped to 1-2, they trailed the National League wild-card leaders, the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals (both 59-53), by a manageable 5½ games through Monday.

According to FanGraphs.com, the Reds (53-58) had a 6.4 percent chance of making the playoffs with 51 games to play. Trailing the Chicago Cubs by 7½ games, they had a 1.8 percent chance of winning the Central Division. Their wild-card chances stood at 4.6 percent.

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However you do do the math, the Reds are a longshot — even in the wild-card race because there are five teams between them and the two leaders — but they are at least in the conversation after four straight last-place finishes.

Bell pays attention to the standings every day.

“It’s everything,” Bell said. “It’s one statistic I like paying attention to. That’s what it’s all about. You always keep an eye on it. You can’t really control what other teams do, unless you’re playing them. I think we’ve been around it long enough where you can have fun with it, pay attention to it but also know you can only control what you do each night and that’s going out and winning. If you do it, that’s how you gain ground, by taking care of business in your game.”

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To make a serious run for a playoff berth, the Reds need a lengthy run of success. They won six games in a row in mid-June and have two three-game winning streaks in the last six weeks. They got back to five games under .500 for the 30th time this season by winning Monday. It was their seventh win in the last 10 games.

“Even though we’re not there yet, we have a shot at (the postseason),” Bell said. “We have to continue to play better. We’ve played well off and on all year, enough to where we have the confidence to know we’re good enough. It’s absolutely energizing when you still have close to two months and if you play as well as you’re capable of, if we do that, we’re going to be right there. We’re not so far out of it that it’s going to take a miracle.”

THURSDAY’S GAME

Cubs at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410