Reds prepare for final exams

Cincinnati readies reinforcements for the dog days of summer

Originally Published: August 9, 2010
By John Perotto | Baseball Prospectus
HeiseyKyle Terada/US PresswireThe play of unlikely contributors like rookie Chris Heisey has been a major part of the Reds' success.

When the Reds host the St. Louis Cardinals tonight in the opener of a three-game showdown between the top two teams in the National League Central, it will be the biggest baseball game played in Cincinnati in this millennium.

The Reds haven't had a winning season since 2000 and haven't contended for a postseason berth since 1999, when they lost a one-game playoff to the New York Mets for the NL wild card. However, the Reds have won nine of 11 to move 16 games over .500 and take a two-game lead over the Cardinals with a chance to extend that margin this week.

It would be easy to write the Reds off as a fluke, especially after a decade of losing. However, there is nothing fluky about a team that leads the NL in runs scored (4.89 a game), is third in defensive efficiency (converting 70.9 percent of balls in play into outs) and sixth in runs allowed (4.14) this deep in the season.

To read about the Reds' chances of making the playoffs and the reinforcements they're readying to carry them through the dog days of August, you must be an ESPN Insider.