CINCINNATI -- The Washington Nationals ended the notion that the Reds' season was salvageable.
Four-game sweeps by the combined score of 34-12 tend to do that. The strong finish before the All-Star break is a distant memory.
So now what?
Here are nine fearless predictions of things that will happen going forward (listed from most likely to least likely):
1. Storen's traded
Right-hander Drew Storen is having a bounce-back year (3.38 ERA in 39 games, fewer than a hit an inning). He's not under contract for next year. Bullpen pieces are always moved at the trade deadline.
The haul won't be big, but two of the guys the Reds got in the Jonathan Broxton trade in 2014 -- Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin -- pitched for the big league club this year.
2. Getting younger
You're likely to see Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed and Amir Garrett back in the big leagues, probably in the rotation. With all the injuries, it's troubling that not one of the three is on the roster now.
For any hope of success, the Reds have to have to get much better starting pitching. The Reds simply have to find out about their trio of top prospects for 2018.
"If you're going to build a team, you build it through the starting rotation," Reds Manager Bryan Price said. "First of all, stay healthy and define who we're going with. Who is going to be the foundation of this five-man rotation? That's been a hard process to transition from that group in 2012.
"It's very challenging if the strength of your club is not based around your starting rotation.
". . . We have to have a vision of what our starting rotation is going to look in 2018, but we have to have that vision in 2017."
3. Cozart's gone
Zack Cozart is having a career year. He's hitting .306 with a .919 OPS. He made the All-Star team. He's among the best defensive shortstops in the baseball. And he's an all-around great guy.
But he's also a free agent.
He should be at the top of the list of playoff contenders in need of a shortstop rental. But there aren't really any in need.
However, Houston may be in the market now that Carlos Correa out for six to eight weeks.
4. Price era ends
I do not think that Price should be fired. I think he's done an admirable job given injuries to the starting rotation. Seven starters have gone on the disabled list.
Only one pitcher on anyone's radar when the season started is in the rotation. That's Homer Bailey, and he's been awful in three of his five starts.
But managers often take undeserved falls.
I don't think it will happen with Price, and I don't think it would help.
5. Someone overpays for Iglesias
Closer Raisel Iglesias is the best trading chip the Reds have. They are reportedly dangling him to other clubs. If another club overpays, there's a chance he's moved.
But until the starting rotation is fixed, a closer doesn't much matter and Iglesias' shoulder issues persisted when they tried to use him as a starter.
6. Front office shakeup
President of Baseball Operations/General Manager Dick Williams is safe. This is his first year running the baseball operations.
But I could see the Reds looking at the scouting and player development operations. The pitching hasn't developed like the Reds hoped. It's hard to say the reason for that.
But it's something the organization has to examine.
7. Move an outfielder
Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler all have trade value and all are relatively cheap for the next few years. Jesse Winker is ready (although his lack of power is a concern).
I don't think this will happen, but, again, this club needs starting pitching.
8. Go to plan B
It's too late to stop the rebuilding process. But the Reds may reconsider trying to fill all the holes in the rotation with the young pitchers currently in the system.
That's not really likely to happen at the deadline this year. But Price admitted that he thinks that's maybe necessary.
"I think eventually we're going to have to look into finding something from outside moving forward that can really be something to build around," he said. "A strong health history would be a good place to start."
9. Stand pat
Take a mulligan and hope things get better in ‘18. Yeah, that's ninth on the list for a reason.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at email@example.com