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Latos and Leake, Lords of the Left Coast

Updated on June 30, 2012

Latos and Leake, Lords of the Left Coast

by Robb Hoff

June 30, 2012

After back-to-back one-run complete games tossed by hurlers Mike Leake and Mat Latos, the fortunes of the Cincinnati Reds on their 11-game West Coast road trip appears to be very promising.

The Reds may only maintain a narrow one-game lead in the N.L. Central over the Pittsburgh Pirates heading into the first day of July, but the likelihood is that the Reds will get stronger and the Pirates weaker as the season toils onward into the dog days of summer.

The only albatross hanging over the Reds right now is the health of first-baseman superstar Joey Votto, who came up lame after chopping a weak grounder to third base. The initial report is that Votto has a jammed knee.

In place of Votto, veteran do-it-all man Miguel Cairo connected for what turned out to be the difference maker in the 2-1 win on Saturday -- a comebacker that bounded its way through the infield to score Reds shortstop Zack Cozart.

Without Votto in the lineup, the Reds will need their pitcher to continue to carry the team.

Although there is reasonable reluctance to proclaim Latos a legitimate Number Two in the rotation, three of his last four starts have encouraged enough to believe he will continue to develop toward that status if he isn't quite there yet.

As for Leake, he is a gamer who is once again proving he belongs in the rotation and can carry enough games to help the playoff push, like he did 2010.

The short term question is: What about Votto?

If the worst case scenario materializes -- i.e. an ACL tear -- then the Reds will have a difficult time contending.

But even if Votto has to miss time until after the All-Star break, the Reds should carry their lead into the second half of the season, poised to make a run that will handily leave the rest of the division behind them.

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