CHICAGO -- As the Cincinnati Reds clinched a playoff berth Thursday with the 5-3 victory, the young Chicago Cubs were left steamrolled by a team that figures to still be competitive once they themselves are ready to become a winner.
Over the next few days, the Reds are also expected to add a 2012 National League Central Division title to their list of season accomplishments.
With young offensive contributors, a solid rotation and a stingy bullpen when healthy, the Cubs look toward the Reds as yet another blueprint for future success. Earlier this month they were looking with envy at a talented Washington Nationals club, whose path from 100-loss seasons to NL force has been one to emulate.
But the Nationals are doing their damage in the NL East. The Cubs will have to go head-to-head with the Reds and then move past them if division titles are what they seek in the next five years.
“It’s a nice organization,” manager Dale Sveum said. “They have won 80-plus games and their starting pitching stayed healthy the whole year. Their bullpen, aside from (Aroldis) Chapman recently, has stayed healthy which is a huge thing to happen. When you keep them healthy it makes a difference.”
Having a bullpen as talented as the Reds’ will take some work. But with offensive standouts like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro already in the fold, the Cubs hope to have a core group in place that could one day go toe-to-toe on offense with the Reds.
“The Reds have young guys,” Sveum said. “(Todd) Frazier filled in for (Joey) Votto and did one heck of a job. They have some guys on the bench that can play every day as well as a very good starting lineup. Whenever you’re looking on the other side of the fence you think these are the kind of teams you’d like to build like and have longevity too.”