Reds should be well-represented at MLB All-Star game
The 2015 Major league baseball game will be held at Great American Ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
While the Reds will no doubt be the centerpiece of next year’s All-Star gala, they figure to be well represented in this year’s game slated for July 15 at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins.
With the game just three weeks away at least four Reds appear to have solid chances of making the roster, while three others could make an argument to be on the roster as well.
Despite a first half of the season that saw no less than eight key players spend time on the disabled list resulting in an uphill struggle to get back to the .500 mark, several individuals are in the midst of career seasons.
Two years ago right hander Johnny Cueto appeared primed to make his very first all star game as he was one of the leading pitchers in the National League in the first half of the 2012 season only to get a snub from then St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, after Cueto was one of the central figures in a brawl between the two teams.
Once again it will be a St.Louis manager who gets to chose the reserves for the National League squad in Mike Matheny, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario that would leave Cueto off of the team this time.
The Dominican Republic native owns a record of 7-5 with a microscopic 1.86 earned run average.
Cueto leads all major league starting pitchers in ERA (1.86), WHIP (0.84), and innings pitched (116), while placing in the top five in quality starts (14-of-16) as well as strikeouts (119).
Opponents are batting just .173 off of Cueto who could own at least 11 wins at this point in the season as five times he has went at least seven innings and allowed two runs or less, only to come away with either a loss or a no decision.
While Cueto’s success should come as no surprise to Reds fans, the same can not be said for one Alfredo Simon.
Simon had been a solid member of a very good Reds bullpen for the past two seasons, but was groomed as a temporary starter in spring training as Mat Latos was scheduled to miss a start or two after off season elbow surgery.
While Latos ended up needing additional time to recover when he also injured his knee, Simon took full advantage as he owns 10 wins, good enough to tie St. Louis righty Adam Wainwright for the National League lead.
Simon owns a solid 2.95 ERA while 13 of his 15 starts have been quality ones, (three runs or less in six innings.)
Offensively the Reds have two outstanding candidates as well in third baseman Todd Frazier and catcher Devin Mesoraco.
With both Jay Bruce and Joey Votto suffering disabling injuries in the first half, Frazier and Mesoraco have each picked up their production in a big way.
Frazier is batting .284 with 17 homeruns and 45 runs batted in while also stealing eight bases.
Those numbers rank right at the top of National League third baseman as the New Jersey native ranks number one in the NL in homers, RBI’s and steals.
Mesoraco’s numbers are similar among National League backstops.
It seems like the Punxsutawney, Pa. native has been hitting bullets every since Ground Hogs Day as he ranks first among NL backstops in homeruns (14), second in batting average (.315) and third in RBI’s (40) despite missing the some 20 games due to injury.
While those four can make the best case to make the trip to Minnesota, relievers Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Broxton as well as center fielder Billy Hamilton could also merit consideration.
Chapman has made a remarkable return from the horrific injury he suffered in spring training when he was struck in the face with a line drive by saving 13 games in 14 opportunities while posting a 2.70 ERA and striking out an impressive 41 hitters in just 20 innings of work.
Broxton took over as closer while Chapman was out before resuming his role as set up man and the big right hander has been outstanding in both roles as he owns a 3-0 record with an 0.70 ERA and five saves.
Hamilton has heated up lately and now owns a very respectable .276 batting average to go along with 31 stolen bases and could add quite a bit of excitement to the National League squad if selected.
Obviously not all seven will make the squad but the fact that the Reds have seven candidates and none of them is named Bruce, Votto, Latos, or Brandon Phillips bodes well for the team making a second half-run assuming those four return to their usual form.
Mike Morrison is a Marietta Times part-time sports writer.