The Reds are improved this year, but let's try and focus in on the specific problem or problems that are causing the team to be slightly worse than .500. I post team stats every ten games, not repeating the stats here, but others should feel free to do so.
Here's my breakdown so far.
Bullpen -- A. Not A plus, but one of the best in the league. Like all areas can do better but has been the strength of the team. (I'm sure 22-1 debacle didn't help pen ERA with Janish pitching, so stats don't tell full story.) Dusty needs to continue to watch usage. I think some guys (Herrera?) may be wearing down a bit.
Defense -- B+. Too many errors. Left side of the infield questionable with Gonzo out. When Gomes plays LF is not a good defensive spot. But generally the outfield is light years better than previous seasons and the defense has been solid or better.
Starting pitching -- B-. Middle of the pack for NL is an improvement. Cueto and Harang have been very good. Owings good for fifth starter. Arroyo has faded badly. Bailey very promising. When Volquez returns, if healthy, could improve this area. Pretty good depth and young guys with great promise.
Offense -- D. First base and second base strong. Third base acceptable if EE plays up to norms. Catcher improved. SS Hairston OK stopgap, obviously team has a hole at that position. OF offense horrendous.
Bench -- B-. Haven't looked at stats but generally satisfied. Hanigan gets an A for his bench performance. Janish has been as advertised defensively. Gomes good offensively. Hairston has helped much with versatility. Dickerson patient hitter with speed and defense. Nix ok but has faded. Overall, versatile group has done well.
The obvious major problems are getting Bruce on track offensively; Taveras' hitting as lead off man; the lack of a true starting left fielder with a bat; and Arroyo's recent pitching slump. IMO these need to be addressed for team to improve.