PITTSBURGH – Summer ended Sunday when the Cincinnati Reds ended their 2021 season on a foggy afternoon at PNC Park.
Nick Castellanos, who could play his last game in a Reds uniform, netted an RBI double in the third inning for his 100th RBI of the season. Joey Votto has scored for the 36th time this season, a three-point explosion in the fifth inning. Lefty Reiver Sanmartin allowed a run in six innings in his second career start.
The Reds closed the season and summer with a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. They finished 83-79, missing the playoffs for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.
“We haven’t reached our ultimate goal, it’s no secret,” said manager David Bell, who agreed to a two-year contract extension in September. “The guys gave their all. To get through a Major League season and have the number of successes that the individual players on our team had, to put us in a position that we did, every guy in that team should be very proud of this. We have a lot to look forward to. “
Managing Director Nick Krall:2022 budget is top priority for Cincinnati Reds offseason
“He still wants to play”:Jonathan India impresses Cincinnati Reds with tenacity
Nick Castellanos:Undecided on opt-out, says 2021 has been ‘most consistent, happiest’ season
The Reds were in the driver’s seat in the wild card race after a four-game sweep against the Miami Marlins August 19-22. They moved a 12-game high above 0.500 and held a one-game lead for last place in the playoffs.
Then it was a collapse in September. The Reds have lost eight straight series and failed to capitalize on an advantageous schedule against teams under 500. They lost 18 of their next 27 games. They kept the door open for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that took the lead with a franchise-record 17-game winning streak and ran away with the wild-card race.
“It was the first year I was legitimately sad when we got knocked out,” said Joey Votto. “Don’t get me wrong, last year in the playoffs of course I was disappointed. In years past, being eliminated has been disappointing. But for some reason, because I see the end, you know you only have a certain number of opportunities. Plus, I really enjoyed playing with these guys.
It was a resilient group. The Reds had six games below 0.500 on May 29 before posting a 15-12 record in June and a 16-10 record in July. They swept away the cardinals in Saint-Louis. They won three of four games against the division-winning Milwaukee Brewers before the all-star break.
Votto scored seven straight games, missing a chance to tie the MLB record by a few yards at Citi Field. Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker carried the offense in the first half of the year and were selected as All-Star Game starters. Jonathan India rose to the top spot and became the National League’s favorite for Rookie of the Year.
“Seeing guys like India and Tyler Stephenson develop is really intriguing, it’s exciting,” said Votto. “It’s about to be their team. Watch Winker improve. Tyler Mahle, of course. I am excited about the young players on this list. Hopefully they continue to develop and improve and take the reins of this franchise.
This Reds team struggled with some gaps in the roster. Property opted to cut player payrolls last winter, so the Reds moved closer to Raisel Iglesias and freed set-up man Archie Bradley. The bullpen was a weakness for much of the season. They were lucky that Kyle Farmer stepped in at shortstop after failing to sign one in the offseason, starting the year with Eugenio Suárez in that position.
A lack of depth emerged at the end of the year due to injuries and tired pitchers, which coincided with the team’s collapse in the past month or so.
This is an organization that has moved things forward by committing more than $ 165 million in free agency ahead of the 2020 season, signing Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley. That resulted in a playoff berth in last year’s pandemic-shortened 60-game season, but the Reds were swept from the playoffs without scoring a run in 22 innings.
Castellanos has an opt-out clause in his contract and can return to free agency this winter. The Reds have a $ 10 million club option in Miley’s contract. Moustakas and Akiyama have an uncertain future with no clear path to the starting roles.
Now is the time to build around their young core of talent. India and Stephenson have had stellar rookie years. Vladimir Gutierrez was a solid starter at the back of the rotation until he got tired at the end of the season.
The next wave of prospects arriving in 2022 will likely include right-hander Hunter Greene, the No.2 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, and southpaw Nick Lodolo, the No.7 pick in 2019.
Summer ended on Sunday, but the Reds are hoping it’s just the start of their next chapter, not the end of their playoff window.
“It’s really tough to qualify for the playoffs with 80-85 wins, so we have to play better next year,” said Votto. “The Cardinals’ long winning streak notwithstanding, you would still need to be closer to 90 wins to hope to make the playoffs. We have to play better next year. I hope we will.