It might only take one folks...the Central and the NL in general is a parity party to say the least. The Dodgers are the only team where I can't find any obvious, major flaws, and we really aren't competing with them anyway.
I think it is 100% possible that an 83-86 win team is going to make the playoffs this year-- maybe two. Not only is the Central wide open, but I don't see the Marlins, Mets, Giants, or Rockies running away with the wild card either.
But I do think we'll need at least one legitimate hot streak if we stand a chance. We don't need anything historic, but we will need something like winning 9 of 11 or 10 of 13-- something in that neighborhood.
But are we capable?
At this point, I'm leaning towards a solid "no." I think we might simply be the most absolutely average baseball team that was ever assembled. Given our recent history, "painfully average" isn't such a bad thing-- especially if we do it behind a nice core of young players.
But when you hit the midpoint of the season and you're as close in the standings as we are, you might as well dream a little.
I don't think we even need to catch lighting in a bottle for the entire second half of the season-- maybe just for two weeks at the right time.
Figure it like this.....Reds get hot/lucky for two weeks and rattle off 10 wins in 13 games. Right now, that would put us 7 games over .500 and on pace to win 84-85 games for the season. After that two week stretch we could completely fall back into the "win one, lose one" routine we're currently in and be perfectly fine.
I think that's what keeps me really interested right now....not that I really think this team is a "conteder," but that even just one little hot streak could set us up for our first serious playoff run in 10 years.