There's been plenty of talk about the Reds becoming sellers later this year, potentially shedding the salaries of Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, and Francisco Cordero. However, at 17-15, this team is firmly in contention. The problem is that their runs scored and allowed totals suggest a below-.500 team, a club that should finish with 74 wins or so. To remain in the playoff hunt, the Reds need to play better.
With 4.66 runs scored per game this year, the Reds rank in the middle of the NL. If they're able to maintain that production, they'd probably finish around sixth in the runs scored rankings. Improvements might come from within, as more is expected from Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Drew Stubbs, and Jonny Gomes. My speculation: potential outfield bats the Reds could pursue include Scott Podsednik, Andruw Jones, David DeJesus, and Ryan Church. The ability to play center field would be beneficial.
The Reds' starting pitching has been terrible, with a 5.31 ERA. Only Mike Leake has an ERA under 5.00. Again, improvements should come from within, with Harang, Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, and Homer Bailey capable of better things. Aroldis Chapman doesn't appear ready given a 5.1 BB/9 in Triple A. One interesting rental idea if the Diamondbacks continue to stumble: Brandon Webb. He's talked about playing closer to his Kentucky home, so Cincinnati would be perfect.
The Reds' bullpen has technically struggled, though much of the ERA damage came from low-leverage pitchers Logan Ondrusek and Carlos Fisher. Despite spotty control, Nick Masset's 14.6 K/9 and .511 BABIP suggest he'll round back into setup man form.
Like most teams, the Reds have a few areas for improvement. However, their likeliest path to the playoffs involves veterans simply meeting expectations.