The Cincinnati Reds will turn to Jesse Winker as the team’s starting center fielder tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
At this point, what do you have to lose? The Cincinnati Reds have a shake up in their starting outfield. Scott Schebler will be given the night off and Jesse Winker will receive his first career start in center field. While far from the ideal replacement for Schebler, putting Winker in center is worth a shot.
With Billy Hamilton in Kansas City, Nick Senzel on the injured list, and Phillip Ervin at Triple-A Louisville, the Reds have very few options to replace Scott Schebler in center field. Don’t read too much into this either, this isn’t a benching, but rather a way to give Schebler a night off. It’s a move I fully support.
Nobody on the Cincinnati Reds has gotten off to worse start this season than Scott Schebler. Schebler is 1-for-20 with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks. The double in last night’s loss was not just his first extra base hit, but his first and only hit on the season.
Jesse Winker hasn’t been much better. Winker got his first hit of the season last night as well. Winker is 1-for-17 on the young season with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. Obviously, both Winker and Schebler have gotten off to a bad start, but Schebler just looks lost out there, right?
I’m a Nick Senzel fan and really wanted the Cincinnati Reds to put him on the Opening Day roster. That being said, Senzel didn’t outplay Schebler during Spring Training and though I don’t agree with it, I can accept that Schebler earned the starting job in center field. Schebler slashed .342/.490/.579 with 2 home runs and 11 walks.
The walks, or lack thereof to begin the season, are the biggest sticking point for me. It seemed as though Schebler had rid himself of the propensity to swing at bad pitches up in the zone. He looked much more patient at the plate during Spring Training. That has not carried over to the regular season.
Winker on the other hand had a poor Spring Training, but in light of coming off last year’s injury, fans were a bit more forgiving. Winker even drew the Opening Day start in left field over Matt Kemp which angered some of the Reds’ fanbase.
Let me be clear, I believe that all four of the outfielders currently on the Cincinnati Reds roster can play at a high level. Schebler is two years removed from a 30 home run season, Kemp and Yasiel Puig are former All-Stars, and Winker produced a .405 on-base percentage last season. These are good major league players who just aren’t getting it done right now.
With Senzel hurt, starting Jesse Winker in center field is a necessary move right now unless you want to recall Phillip Ervin or Jose Siri, which I don’t think the Reds will consider. Again, for the moment, this appears to be a one time thing in order to get Schebler a day off. However, if his woeful performance at the plate continues, then David Bell will have a decision to make.