Aug 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs second basemanDarwin Barney
(right) turns a double play over Cincinnati Reds right fielderJay Bruce
(32) during the second inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
To get you set on the Cubs-Reds series that begins on Monday at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, we sat down with Blog Red Machine staff writer Tim Daniel for a look at the keys of the Reds’ success this season. Chicago, which is the last place team in the National League Central, will look to play spoiler to the third-place Reds, who are in a tight battle for the division crown.
Brandon Phillips has been bounced around in the lineup this year – How big of a key is he in the Reds’ success? Is there any one spot in the order you see him as being most valuable?
"Phillips has been a crazy, part of this teams success this year. At different times in Phillips career he has been a 30 steals guy, a .300 hitter, and now a 100 RBI guy. The defense speaks for itself, but I don’t think they’re in the race without Phillips ability to bat in a few different spots in the order."
Who is the unsung hero for Cincinnati as the season winds down? We all know about Bruce, Phillips and Votto – who else is a constant factor?
"Mat Latos, hands down. Latos has had to step up with the loss of Johnny Cueto and really be the ace. He has been fantastic for this team and really taken advantage of being the ace."
How big of a deal is Billy Hamilton‘s call-up for Reds fans? He had a pair of impressive steals last week against the Cards. Is there more to him than speed?
"While so far Dusty is using Billy to steal bases and get into scoring position, yes there is more than speed to Billy Hamilton. Billy struggled early in AAA Louisville this year but has been a fairly constant OBP guy in the Reds system. Billy had a solid second half for the Bats and I expect him to play a big part in the pennant race."
What is the biggest factor in this series for the Reds? They’re in the thick of a playoff race, and have a legitimate shot at the NL Central title. What’s the make or break for this club?
"The biggest factor is Joey Votto. Sure that sounds like a cop out, but Votto hasn’t had an easy few weeks. On Friday and Saturday, he looked like the old Joey. In those two games against LA, Joey got on base 9 straight plate appearances. Joey will always be able to get on base, but it’s nice to see him getting hits again. I’m sure you’d be blown away by the criticism that Votto receives from the Reds fan base."