As of Wednesday morning, the Cincinnati Reds sit in fourth place of the National League Central division with a 21-25 record.
They have tumbled some after a good start, and are currently under .500.
The St. Louis Cardinals are first, with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers not far behind.
Fans and some observers have suggested the Reds should tear everything down and start a long rebuild process.
After all, the team hasn’t won the World Series since 1990, 31 years ago.
But is that really the path they should take?
Cincinnati Can Compete This Season
While it’s true that the Nolan Arenado addition probably makes the Cardinals the favorites to win an otherwise close division, the Cubs, Brewers, and Reds all have what it takes to be competitive this year.
In fact, the fourth-placed Reds still aren’t that far behind the top spot, just four games.
That means they could potentially overcome the Cardinals with a hot streak of victories over a two or three-week period.
It’s still very early, so anything can happen.
The Reds certainly have the pieces to make a run at the division, but they need some breakouts and rebound performances.
Castellanos is hitting .359/.418/.671 with 12 home runs and 2.8 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.
Winker has been just as good, with a .346/.402/.667 line, 13 homers, and 2.0 WAR.
Both hitters have been among the best of the National League so far, and everything in their underlying stats indicate that this is no fluke and they have all the tools to keep playing at a similarly high level for the whole season.
— Cincinnati 💔 (@CincyProblems) May 23, 2021
For the Reds, though, other players have to step up if they are going to compete and, subsequently, avoid a full rebuild.
Mike Moustakas (.241/.337/.437) needs to improve and regain the level we know he can show.
The key for Cincinnati, however, is the pitching, and more specifically, Luis Castillo.
The Key For The Reds Season: Luis Castillo
The right-handed changeup artist is a known slow starter, but he has taken things to the extreme this year.
He has a 7.61 ERA in 47.1 frames so far, and has cost the Reds a lot of games.
Luis Castillo's pitching line vs. Brewers today: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 5 K. He has a 7.61 ERA this season. #Reds
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) May 23, 2021
He has been an ace in the past, so if he can regain his level, which he should once the temperatures start going up, the Reds will be well-positioned to make a run at the playoffs.
The organization is in good shape to compete this year and next, and even though they traded All-Star closer Raisel Iglesias before the season, that shouldn’t be mistaken as a sign they are going to embrace a full rebuild.
All in all, the Reds are good enough to make a run at the playoffs in 2021, and a full rebuild doesn’t make too much sense.