Reds remain positive but face long odds in quest to make playoffs

Cincinnati Reds' Eugenio Suarez (7) celebrates with third base coach J.R. House while rounding the bases after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Cincinnati Reds entered the final two weeks of the 60-game season with little margin for error. Their postseason chances hinged on them likely having to win at least nine of their last 13 games.

To put in perspective how difficult that will be, the Reds (21-26) have won no more than seven games in a 13-game stretch this season. Last season, they had one stretch in which they won nine out of 13 games.

FanGraphs.com projects the Reds to go 7-6 the rest of the way and gives them a 24.5 percent chance of making the playoffs, most likely through one of the two wild-card bids that go to the teams with the best records outside the top two teams in each division.

The Reds, for what it’s worth, continue to remain positive. A 10-5 victory Sunday in St. Louis helped. It gave them their fourth series victory in the last 12 series versus the Cardinals.

“We have a chance to make a run here,” reliever Archie Bradley said Sunday. “The numbers may not be great. There’s a lot of teams ahead of us. But I believe. I know the guys in there believe, and today was a big showing for that. A chance to win a series on a Sunday. It’s a big momentum swing to take a big series and hopefully you know get the homestand started off right tomorrow and go win both of those games.”

ExploreASK HAL: How much does unusual season have to do with Reds' struggles?

The Reds opened a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday with a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. Sweeping the Pirates (14-30), who have the worst record in baseball, would put the Reds right back in contention.

Of course, the schedule ahead makes staying in contention difficult for the Reds. They play three games in Cincinnati this weekend against the Chicago White Sox (30-16), who have the second-best record in baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (33-14).

The Reds then play three games at home against the Milwaukee Brewers (20-24) before ending the season on the road against the Minnesota Twins (30-18), one of five teams in baseball with 30 or more victories.

Even if the Reds do manage to get back to .500 by the end of the season, there’s no guarantee a 30-30 record will get them to the playoffs. The Rockies (21-25), Brewers and Mets (21-26) all are also competing for the final spot, trying to catch the Philadelphia Phillies (23-22) and San Francisco Giants (23-24).

“There’s crazier things that have happened,” Bradley said. “With eight teams making it, I feel really good about this team’s attitude and the way we feel going into these last 14 games.”

NOTES: Nick Senzel returned from the injured list and started in center field in the first game of the doubleheader Monday. He had been on the injured list since Aug. 19 for an undisclosed reason. ... The Reds put reliever Tyler Thornburg on the 45-day injured list with a right elbow strain and removed reliever Matt Bowman (right elbow strain) from the 60-man player pool.

In Other News