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The Cincinnati Reds currently sit four games back in the NL Central and open the second half of the season against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, who the Reds just beat a series. If the Reds can win 10 of their first 15 games to open the second half of the season, they’ve got something brewing.

I’ve been to six Cincinnati Reds game this season so far, and they’re 2-4 when I’m in attendance. I would say I’ll stop going, but I’ve still got some summer days left to kill before the fall season starts.

Just three weeks ago, the Reds won six straight games and followed that with a five-game losing streak to drop under .500 again. At that point, I somewhat mailed it in and figured that was the beginning of the end.

After all, it is the Reds, and it’s what I’ve become accustomed to over the past 10-15 years of watching them take the field.

They entered July with a 39-40 recorded and sat some 8-10 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central division.

But then something wonderful happened.

The Reds (finally) beat the San Diego Padres and then swept the Chicago Cubs. They followed by winning the series over the Kansas City Royals before taking the series over the Brewers.

The Reds are 9-2 in July and have climbed to second place in the NL Central with a four-game cushion over third place. Luis Castillo is rounding into form, Wade Miley is pitching like an ace, and Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker, who are both All-Stars, and deservedly so, are leading a high-powered offense.

The Reds are a few quality bullpen additions away from being a serious threat to win the NL Central, therefore they need to be buyers before the trade deadline.

Add some bullpen help and get a shortstop like Colorado’s Trevor Story. The bullpen is the major need, Story is more of a want than a need, but no one will complain about another bat and a talented shortstop in the lineup.

Now, even though I just said all of that and the Reds fan inside of me is somewhat starting to believe something could happen, I need to see more. I’m not ready to jump fully on board this train just yet.

The first 15 games out of the All-Star break will tell me just about everything I need to know about if the Reds are real or just cubic zirconia.

They have a three-game series with the Brewers to open, followed by playing the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Cubs and then the Mets again.

The Brewers lead the Reds by four games in the NL Central, and the Mets are also in first-place of the NL East. Take the series over both team would be incredible, but I’m focusing on the bigger picture instead.

If the Reds can win 10 of the opening 15 games out of the break, then I’ll be on board with them. But even then, that still doesn’t ensure that they make the playoffs considering they’re still behind the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers in the wild card spot.

The Reds’ best bet of making the playoffs is to win the NL Central, because I don’t see the Padres or Dodgers falling off anytime soon.

Teams are going to be selling at the trade deadline, and I fully expect the Reds to be buyers and possibly trade some guys in the farm system for win-now players.

Just know that Hunter Greene and couple other guys are off limits unless a guy is available that you just don’t turn down with some years left on his deal.

The starting pitching rotation seems to have found it’s rhythm now, especially with Luis Castillo looking like himself over his past six starts despite being just 3-10 on the season.

His ERA has significantly dropped from a 7.22 back in May down to a 4.65 now in July. If he stays on this path of improvement, alongside with how Wade Miley is pitching right now, that’s a lethal duo to go into the postseason with.

Add in Sonny Gray when he returns from injury, and you’ve got another big three, somewhat like last season with Gray, Castillo and now-Dodger pitcher Trevor Bauer.

Also on the injury list Nick Senzel and Mike Moustakas, who have been out since mid-May. Senzel underwent knee surgery but has since started the rehab process to make a return.

Moustakas on the other hand is still dealing with a heel injury that still has him in a walking boot for the time being. I wouldn’t bank on him returning for another couple months if the Reds are lucky. But even then, considering the way rookie Johnathan India is playing, they’ll be fine for now.

The way last season ended with the loss to Atlanta in the playoffs still hurts, but I’m not too upset about it. The offense was terrible.

However, the offense is seventh in the MLB in batting average (.249), eighth in RBIs (415), fifth in hits (752), fourth in on-base percentage (.330) and eighth in runs scored (435). So, offense is not the problem now.

At the end of the day, I just want them to win a playoff series. That would be a step in the right direction. In my 29 years of life, I haven’t seen either the Reds or Bengals advance in the playoffs.

And no, I’m still not over Scott Rolen’s error in game three at San Francisco nine years ago or Buster Posey’s grand slam in game five. And I most certainly will NEVER get over Jeremy Hill’s fumble in 2015 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those three moments were the most heartbreaking moments I’ve ever experienced in my life.

But I digress, it’s all on Reds’ management to make some moves and show that you believe in the team the same way Reds fans around the world are beginning to believe in this team.

Once again, go get bullpen help and while you’re at it, and tell Story to find a spot to live in the Queen City as well.

If the Reds are in the lead of the NL Central, or at least just one or two back when August 1 is here, then I’ll completely jump on the bandwagon and fully set myself up once again aboard the Reds roller coaster.

I just hope I don’t throw up once the ride is over.

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