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Reds in last place despite positive run differential

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The Reds salvaged their three-game series in Oakland, winning Thursday afternoon’s game 3-0. The first two games didn’t go well, as Mike Fiers no-hit them on Tuesday and they suffered their fourth walk-off loss of the season on Wednesday. Despite a +23 run differential, the 16-22 Reds are in last place in the NL Central.

There are just seven teams with a better run differential than the Reds: the Rays (+59), Cubs (+57), Dodgers (+51), Astros (+47), Twins (+44), Yankees (+32), and Phillies (+31). They are all first- or second-place teams. The Reds’ Pythagorean record — their expected record based on run differential — is 22-16, a five-game difference.

It’s been a brutal week and a half in particular for the Reds. On April 30, the Reds came back to tie the Mets at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning only to suffer a walk-off loss on a Pete Alonso sacrifice fly. Exactly one week ago, Noah Syndergaard single-handedly beat them 1-0 with a home run and nine shutout innings. The next day, the Reds lost a 12-11, 11-inning slugfest with the Giants, as Evan Longoria struck the decisive blow with a solo homer. The Reds again fell apart late on Sunday against the Giants, surrendering a tie-breaking two-run home run to Brandon Crawford in the top of the ninth. Following that loss, closer Raisel Iglesias blamed the way the Reds were using him for his struggles. Then there was Tuesday’s no-no and Wednesday’s walk-off loss against the A’s.

Fortunately for the Reds, it’s a long season. They will, at some point, have a stretch of good luck. And they’re a better team than many people gave them credit for being at the beginning of the season.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.