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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM

The Cincinnati Reds are riding high on a 10-game winning streak as they get ready for Monday Night’s game against the San Diego Padres. That super surge has tied Cincy with Washington for the best record in the National League at 61-40. Reds fans, who were blasting the daily decision-making of manager Dusty Baker as recently as two weeks ago are now trumpeting the Red as best not only in the NL, but in the whole majors!

Yes, Cincinnati is hot. And, yes, it’s come even with Joey Votto on the shelf with an injury. But, handicappers need to think through the process here as they try to determine best expectations for the Reds moving forward. Some quick notes:

*The win streak has come against an extremely weak schedule mostly featuring Colorado, Houston, and Milwaukee. Colorado and Houston have been the two worst teams in all of baseball the last several weeks. And, Milwaukee has faded to oblivion as well. Cincinnati isn’t red hot against good teams (like Oakland has been). Cincinnati is just bullying horrible teams. You know need Joey Votto to do that.

*Cincinnati’s pitching rotation is not exactly the stuff of greatness. Johnny Cueto is a stud, and it was a crime that he wasn’t picked for the All-Star team. The other options are fairly generic innings munchers: Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Mat Latos. That’s not a championship rotation. It’s a B to B-minus group that is strong enough at the back-end to surpass what a lot of other teams have at the back end. If that group pitched in the American League (as Arroyo did for awhile), nobody would be thinking of them as championship material. In the Senior Circuit, the Reds contend in a watered down league that is lacking truly great teams (and one that was waxed again in IL play this year).

*Cincinnati doesn’t get the nod over Washington in a few of the most important indicator stats. Let’s take a look at those…

 

RUN DIFFERENTIAL

Washington +82

Cincinnati +70

 

RECORD VS. .500 OR BETTER OPPONENTS

Washington 30-21

Cincinnati 26-25

Note that both teams have played 51 games vs. teams at .500 or better…which means they’ve had very similar strengths of schedule. Washington is +12 in run differential against similar schedules. Reds fans aren’t yet able to make the case in our view that Cincy is the best in the NL. Champions would be better than a game over .500 vs. other quality this deep into the season. And, well…there’s no way to make the case for best in baseball with the Reds going 7-8 in Interleague while missing most of the best AL teams.

They ARE hot right now…and if you’re a streak player, there’s nothing wrong with riding out the streak for as long as it lasts. That worked on two long streaks against the Astros for proponents of that strategy, and now it’s working with an active 10-game streak on the Reds. Be careful penciling in pennants and a ring ceremony just yet. Who besides Cueto can you trust in the playoffs to mow people down? Having an unhittable flame throwing closer won’t help if you don’t lead in the 9th!

We’re looking forward to the weekend series against Pittsburgh that’s coming up Friday-Sunday. The Reds have an easy schedule down the stretch. Their best tests in terms of October indicators will come in the rare series where they’re playing other contenders.

The TRUE CHAMPIONS of sports handicapping are always just a few clicks away here at the VegasSportsMasters website. They’ve been making big money for you all season long. Here are Monday’s highlights:

*Kelso Sturgeon won with the Reds over Colorado Sunday in a 7-2 squash. That’s now FIVE STRAIGHT major release winners, and 13-2 over the last 15. We’ve been alerting you to these every day…hopefully you’ve been cashing in. Monday’s 100-Unit High Roller baseball play is available now for just a $20 charge to your major credit card.

*Wayne Root SWEPT THE WEEKEND to lift his top play percentage to 71% this season. Wayne is 32-16 on ALL picks in the month of July so far! A pair of Monday gems are yours for just $20 from The King of Las Vegas.

*Jim Feist is stepping out Monday with his MLB Shocker of the Month. Get it for just $20. The man whose name has been associated with Monday Night winners for decades is ready to unleash his top stunner for July.

Big play announcements are posted daily on the home page here at VSM, with expanded details available on the “Buy Picks” pulldown page. Be sure to check for the latest from Jim Hurley, Coach Ron Meyer, and Tony Salinas as well. And, don’t forget that the NFL Preseason is now less than a week away. Early bird rates are available for exhibition and full season packages.

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