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Hartman: Reds sweep Cubs, remind us all is not lost after all

I’m pretty sure I stunned a friend last week when I told him I had expected the Reds to be around a .500 team this season. 

He’s an Indians fan and a casual one at that, but it still seemed unimaginable this could have been a respectable team now given the way things started, right? 

Well, they haven’t lost since, so I guess it’s nice not to seem totally crazy. 

>>RELATED: Reds rally to win Sunday, sweep Cubs

One good week does not a season make, but it sure beats the alternative. 

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Now, why did I think the 2018 Reds would be around a .500 team? 

Well, they had shown they could hit, had a handful of starting pitching prospects finish last season strong and made some additions to the bullpen that looked smart. 

Of course it was easy to forget all those things as nothing went right during the first month or so of the season. 

The starters weren’t good most of the time, the bullpen had a few blowups and worst of all they couldn’t hit. 

But they when the regulars are in there — including Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler, who were both hurt in April — and Joey Votto isn’t slumping, the offense is a lot better. 

>>PHOTOS: Reds beat Cubs 8-6

Yes, it turns out this team can score as expected even though Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton still are hitting in the low .200s and having a hard time getting on base. 

The bullpen actually is good — better than expected despite one of last year’s stalwarts (Wandy Peralta) struggling. 

The rotation is still hit or miss at best, which assures there will be no miracle run to relevance between now and October (or a .500 record, for that matter). 

However, the (admittedly modest) goals from the start of the season may be back on the table if they can avoid chasing this winning streak with another winless week. 

» PROSPECT WATCH: How the top Reds minor leaguers are doing

And what are those goals? 

  • They can still flip a hitter or three (and Matt Harvey) for more young talent. 
  • They can still identify the real prospects for the rotation and hope to get beyond more growing pains with them. 
  • They can still provide some fun summer moments to help pass the time until Bengals training camp. 

To sum things up: The 2018 Reds can still make the 2019 Reds look like a team that will be worth following, which is all we ever wanted, wasn’t it? 

 

Of course not all the news from the weekend was good. 

Two other Reds notes to start the week: 

Top prospect Nick Senzel’s development is halted — again — after he tore a finger ligament

This is not the end of the world, but it means he won’t be getting his feet wet in the majors this season. 

That’s just as well because they don’t have anywhere to put him — yet. 

After a second battle with vertigo in less than a year, Senzel had been red hot at Triple-A Louisville, so I would say there is no doubt he’s ready for a call-up when healthy. 

There are a few different scenarios for getting him into the lineup. 

Not everyone who’s starting now — Schebler, Duvall, Scooter Gennett — is going to be here in 2019, but who goes will determine where Senzel comes up. 

  

In better prospect news, Hunter Greene had another strong start Saturday for the slumping Dayton Dragons. 

He pitched into the seventh inning for the first time, though he took the loss because he allowed three runs and that is too many for the Dragons to win right now. 

Greene was efficient with no walks and 62 of his 87 pitches were strikes. He relied on the fastball but also used his slider at times as an out pitch. He lowered his ERA to 5.13 and has a 2.37 ERA over his last six starts.

“I feel like every outing I’ve been getting better,” Greene said. “I’ve go to continue to learn and get better for sure and stay healthy and to continue to execute pitches.”

Not bad, eh? 

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