Shohei Ohtani's first Dodgers walk-off might result in Reds making drastic decision

Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Dodgers
Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages
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Last week, on the opposite coast from the Dodgers, the Mets' typically-elite closer Edwin Díaz blew two back-to-back save opportunities versus the Phillies at home and then at Citizens Bank Park a few days later. Two days later, against the Marlins, he came in during the ninth to try to redeem himself but gave up four runs instead to allow Miami to win in a come-from-behind victory.

He was reportedly in tears after that appearance, and the Mets said they would explore different options within their bullpen to cycle out with Díaz as closer.

Díaz's younger brother Alexis, the Reds' closer, had a similarly bad Sunday afternoon, during the last of Cincinnati's three games against the Dodgers. In the 10th, with Jason Heyward the ghost runner at second, Díaz walked Will Smith to put two men on with one out, then Shohei Ohtani came up to make the walk irrelevant.

He shot a single to right field, scoring Heyward from second and putting his first walk-off hit as a Dodger in the books. It was a perfect ending to Ohtani's bobblehead weekend, but it could spell trouble for Díaz, who could be headed the way of his big brother.

Could Shohei Ohtani's first Dodgers walk-off against the Reds lead to Alexis Díaz's demotion?

Sunday's loss for the Reds marked Díaz's third loss of the season, on top of two blown save opportunities. His ERA is even worse than his brother's, an astounding 7.02 for a pitcher who was supposed to be one of the more promising closers in the game heading into the 2024 season. After Sunday's loss, the Reds situated themselves firmly at the bottom of the NL Central, almost two games behind the Cardinals.

The Reds probably won't be massive sellers at the trade deadline, no matter how bad their record looks, but there are already some major bullpen trade candidates out there who the Reds could target if they force Díaz earlier into games. The Dodgers taking three out of four from Cincy only intensified the pressure for a team that was supposed to be an NL threat.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, improved to 32-17, the fourth-best record in the majors and right on the heels of the third-place Orioles. Ohtani, as a pure DH this season, also tied himself with Kyle Tucker and teammate Mookie Betts to lead FanGraphs' WAR leaderboards at 3.0, getting ever closer to the possibility of real contention in the MVP vote this season despite not having the unstoppable advantage of being able to pitch at a Cy Young level.

Ohtani's walk-off has been a footnote on his incredible start to his Dodgers career, but it was a necessary one for him to notch as he looks to collect every accolade possible.

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