|Reds skipper Bryan Price will find his job on the line|
The 2017 Major League Baseball season began well for the Cincinnati Reds. The club got off to a hot start, winning seven of their first nine games.
As late as May 17, the Reds were still in first place in the National League Central Division standings. At that point, the club had a 17-14 record.
Beginning on April 30, the club would win nine of 11 games to reach a high-water mark on the season of four games over the .500 mark.
After a month-long period of struggles, the Reds record had fallen into the red. But then Cincinnati went on a four-game winning streak in early June. The quick spurt got the club back within a game of the break-even mark.
It all began to go wrong for the Reds when they left for a west coast swing out to Los Angeles and San Diego beginning on June 9. Scoring just 20 runs on the trip, Cincinnati lost all six games to the Dodgers and Padres.
That west coast shutout was the start of a nine-game losing streak. The Reds have never recovered. Since leaving for that trip, Cincy has collapsed with a 12-30 record.
The Reds are now in last place in the division, buried 13.5 games out. They’re even further back, 17 games, in the NL Wildcard race.
Cincinnati is tied for 18th in MLB in runs scored heading into Saturday action. The pitching staff is 24th in Batting Average Against. Those statistical positions have been on the decline, propped up by the performances of the first two months.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE, OR KISS OF DEATH?
Just 10 days ago, C. Trent Rosecrans at Cincinnati.com spoke with Reds general manager Dick Williams. Rosecrans brought up the topic of Price’s contract, which has a club option for next season that has yet to be activated.
That contract, per Rosecrans, has “language that would prevent the decision from going down to the last week, like it did last year.” Williams telegraphed that the decision would not come down purely to wins and losses.
However, the losses have really piled up on Price’s watch. The ball club is nearly a full 100 games below the .500 mark with a 249-340 record in his four seasons at the helm.
If the losing continues at anything close to the pace of the last two months, the Reds will finish with 100 or more losses for the first time in 35 years.
“We’re not losing games in the dugout right now,” said Williams per Rosecrans. “The coaching staff has done a good job. We just need to make sure the talent continues to develop and those guys keep believing in themselves.”
Since Williams made those comments in what appeared to have been a vote of confidence in Price at the MLB All-Star break, the Reds have lost 13 of 15 games.
PRICE IS RIGHT, REDS LOSING EVERYWHERE
Their 7-4 defeat on Friday night at Marlins Park was the Reds seventh consecutive loss to the struggling Fish in Miami. Price was quoted by Fox Sports on the South Florida streak.
“You look at our winning percentage since the second half of 2014, and it hasn’t been very good. We haven’t won a lot of games anywhere. I don’t think this is any different than any other venue.”
Price is right. The Reds don’t win a lot of games anywhere. His last two teams finished in last place, and this one is headed towards that same finish in the standings.
The Reds may not be losing games in the dugout, as Williams claims, but they are absolutely losing them on the field at an alarming rate. If there isn’t some kind of dramatic turnaround in the next few weeks, it’s hard to see how Price’s contract option will be picked up.