Cincinnati Reds: Scott Schebler’s last 3 games show why he’s still starting

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Scott Schebler #43 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Eugenio Suarez #7 after hitting a solo home run in the third inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Scott Schebler #43 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Eugenio Suarez #7 after hitting a solo home run in the third inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Scott Schebler started off 0-for-21 to begin the 2019 season. The Cincinnati Reds stuck with Schebler through his slump. Schebler’s performance in the last three games show why the team was wise to stick with him.

The Cincinnati Reds started off 2019 with a bang. The team rallied late on Opening Day to begin the season 1-0. Since then the Reds have gone 1-8. A big reason for the lack of success has been the offensive production of the Reds’ outfield. Scott Schebler started the season 0-for-21, but over the last 3 games has shown why the team continued to have faith through his slump.

Schebler was in competition all spring with the Cincinnati Reds’ No. 1 prospect for the starting job in center field. I thought this was Nick Senzel‘s job to lose, which he did. While service time was a factor in the team’s decision to reassign Senzel to minor league camp at the end of Spring Training, Scott Schebler played well enough during Cactus League play to win the job outright.

Schebler went 13-for-38 (.342) during the spring with 11 walks. The amount of free passes combined with his impressive batting average put his on-base percentage at .490. That’s phenomenal. Even more impressive, Schebler seemed to have gained a certain amount of plate discipline, and stopped chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

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Something must have happened between the time the Reds left Goodyear, Arizona and landed in Cincinnati, Ohio because that same Scott Schebler was absent for the first several games of the season. Going 0-for-21 including 7 strikeouts was not the type of start we expected from Schebler.

A lot of fans, myself included, were questioning the organization’s decision to keep Senzel in Triple-A for a player that seemed lost out there. With Senzel injured to begin the season, even Phillip Ervin, who had a terrific spring, was tossed about as a possible replacement for Schebler.

Schebler got the day off last Friday and was replaced in center field by Jesse Winker. It was Winker’s first ever start in center field and while he didn’t play poorly, Winker’s offensive prowess early this season has been about as bad as Schebler’s.

When Schebler returned to the lineup for Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh, he went 1-for-4 with a line drive single to center field in the top of the third. Schebler followed that up with a 2-for-4 performance during Sunday’s series finale. One of those two hits was a home run off Chris Archer, who is now the most hated man in Cincinnati.

Last night, Schebler joined the hit parade put on by the entire Cincinnati Reds team. Every player except for Derek Dietrich had a hit in yesterday’s game against the Miami Marlins. Schebler went 3-for-4 with a walk, two singles, and a roundtripper. Schebler’s second home run of the season followed back-to-back dingers from Matt Kemp and Eugenio Suarez, giving the Reds back-to-back-to-back homers for the first time since 2012.

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Though he labored to the season, Schebler has slashed .500/.538/1.000 with 2 home runs, 3 RBIs and 4 strikeouts. I’d still love to see the walks go up and strikeouts come down, but I like what I’m seeing from Scott Schebler. If he continues hitting well, the Reds will have a difficult decision when Nick Senzel is proclaimed healthy and ready to contribute.