For all the hype that the Cincinnati Reds’ lineup received coming into the season, it has underwhelmed drastically. Now is the time to give Phillip Ervin his chance in the Reds lineup to replace Scott Schebler.
A former first round pick of the Cincinnati Reds, Phillip Ervin tore up Spring Training to the tune of a .341 batting, 1.218 OPS and 5 home runs in 48 plate appearances. With the Reds’ offense off to a horrendous start, specifically Scott Schebler, Ervin’s time is now.
A crowded outfield of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Jesse Winker, and Scott Schebler, paired with Michael Lorenzen’s emergence as a late inning pinch runner/center field defensive replacement, left Ervin on the outside looking in when Spring Training came to a close.
David Bell’s wish to maintain a 4 player bench to accommodate the extra pitcher on the roster sealed Ervin’s fate when he was demoted from big league camp to the minor league camp. Starting the season at Triple-A Louisville has been a step down for Ervin after almost 250 plate appearances at the major league level last season, granted the Reds were sans Puig and Kemp.
No outfielder has fully distanced themselves early in the season to show they deserve the playing time. However, Puig and Winker are due, as they are starting to square up some pitches that could leave the yard as the season heats up.
The issue at hand, in my opinion, isn’t a lack of production, as none of the outfielders have produced thus far (6 -for-79). It’s the lack of playing time for a player who had just as hot of a start in camp as Schebler, but was relegated to the minors.
In the case of Phillip Ervin, he lost out to Schebler, who has looked abysmal at the plate. We can argue all day long whether Bell should have had him bunt against Josh Hader with no outs and a runner on second, but, what we have seen from him so far this season is something far more concerning.
He looks completely lost and uncomfortable at the plate, swinging at anything eye level while laying off pitches over the heart of the plate. It’s most concerning because, for a guy who is usually a free swinger, he continues to lay off first pitch fastballs which have come in droves to him during most of his at-bats. I think most Cincinnati Reds fans lately have thought “oh great” every time he steps into the box.
As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Scott’s hometown. I’m pulling for him as an Iowan, however, after starting the year the way he has, Schebler needs some time to regroup and get back on track (he will).
Phillip Ervin deserves a promotion to see if he can provide the spark that this Cincinnati Reds’ lineup has been sorely missing. The Reds have scored 11 runs in 7 games and need the offense to wake up. Here’s to hoping that happens soon.