Reds on pace to set franchise record for worst ERA

Starting staff’s ERA among the worst in baseball history

Catcher Tucker Barnhart always finds something positive to say to Cincinnati Reds pitchers, even when a game has gotten out of hand, a common occurrence in recent days. He said he also knows there are times when no words of encouragement he offers will help.

The facts tell the sad tale. The Reds have the worst starting pitching staff in baseball this season and one of the worst in baseball history. The good news is they had 70 games remaining through Tuesday. That’s more than enough time to improve the numbers.

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That’s also the bad news. There’s a chance the numbers could get worse. The Reds, who hoped to stop a five-game losing streak Wednesday in the middle game of a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, still have to come to work.

“The game is such an emotional roller coaster,” manager Bryan Price said. “You’ve got to fight through it. There are no free passes. You know it’s going to turn. It’s inevitable it’s going to turn. However, when you’re in it, it’s a challenge. You love to come to the ballpark when you’re winning and everything’s going great. It’s tougher when you’re losing — not to come to the ballpark but to anticipate victory. That’s what we have to keep, to anticipate winning the ballgame.”

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The Reds (39-54) have a solid defense. Their offense ranks in the middle of the pack in the National League in hitting (.257) and runs (438). They are losing because of their pitching. Here’s a quick glance at how bad it has been:

• The team ERA stood at 5.28 through Tuesday. If that stands, it would be the worst mark in modern franchise history (since 1900). The last time the Reds had a team ERA over 5.00 for a season was 2005 (5.15). The 2004 team set the franchise record for worst ERA (5.21)

• Reds starters have a 6.19 ERA. Since 1913, which as far back as’s stats go, Reds starters haven’t had an ERA worse than 5.77 (2003).

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• The 6.19 ERA would tie for the fifth worst in baseball since 1913. The Detroit Tigers starting rotation had a 6.64 ERA in 1996. Eleven starting staffs have posted ERAs 6.00 or worse in that span.

• Reds starters allowed five or more earned runs 27 times in the first 92 games. By comparison, Reds starters allowed five or more earned runs 30 times in the whole 2016 season. In 2013, the last time the Reds played in the postseason, the number was 20.

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