By Sam Cowan
The Cincinnati Reds fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for their 10th loss in their last 11 games.
The 5-1 loss, combined with a 9-1 win by the St. Louis Cardinals against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, has placed the Reds 27.5 games out of first place in the NL Central.
The 27.5 games is the furthest the Reds have been out of first place since the 2004 team finished 29 games out at the end of the season.
If the current standings hold, it will be the first time since 1983 that the Reds finish in last place in their division. The Reds are tied for last in the division with the Milwaukee Brewers.
That 1983 Reds team finished the season 17 games out of first place in the NL West and ended the year with a record of 74-88.
At their current pace, the Reds would finish the season with a record of 67-95, which would be the worst record for the franchise since 2001.
The Reds have struggled since the All-Star break with a record of 13-25 since July 17.
Part of the reason for that struggle has been the trading of top pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake prior to the trade deadline. Those trades have forced the Reds to rely on rookie starting pitching with mixed results.
The oft-derided offense of the Reds has also not helped. While Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez have both hit well since the break, the averages of Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips have dropped.
The issues at the plate have not been helped by the waiver trade of Marlon Byrd on Thursday and a shoulder injury to Billy Hamilton.
The futility of the Reds performances has been shown in two separate nine-game losing streaks during the season. It is the first time since 1989 that the Reds have had multiple nine-game losing streaks in the same season.
While the Reds have struggled this season, the NL Central has remained competitive at the top. The Cardinals hold the best record in baseball while the Pirates and Cubs control the wild-card spots in the National League.
After making the playoffs three times in four years from 2010 to 2013, the Reds will now miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.
With the season a lost cause, the Reds will look to rebuild for next year. The remaining month of the season might prove an important step in the rebuilding process as the Reds assess what they have in terms of players.
From a historical perspective, the near-future does not look promising for the Reds. After the aforementioned 1983 season, the Reds failed to make the playoffs until 1990.