BP: Reds set to end playoff drought

Jay Bruce's recent hot streak is a big reason the Reds are playoff bound. Getty Images

The bubble appeared ready to burst on the Reds' resurgence just three weeks ago when they were swept at home by the Cardinals in a three-game showdown for the National League Central lead.

That dropped the Reds two games behind and the Cardinals, the defending division champions, seemed poised to pull away. However, the Reds have not only hung in since the sweep but taken control of the division as they now have a five-game lead.

The Reds have a chance to break the race open this weekend when they visit the Cardinals for a three-game set at St. Louis that begins Friday night and will mark the final meeting of the regular season between the teams.

The Reds have improved their hopes of reaching the postseason more than any other team in the major leagues over the past two weeks, according to Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report. The Reds now have an 89.9 percent chance of getting to the postseason, an increase of 41.0 percentage points over their 58.9 chance on Aug. 16. They're in fantastic position to reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

Right fielder Jay Bruce and first baseman Joey Votto led the surge in the past two weeks as the Reds went 8-4. Bruce hit .385/.457/.897 with six home runs and Votto batted .356/.420/.667 with four homers in 50 trips to the plate. Bronson Arroyo went 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts.