Cincinnati Reds: Who will Sonny Gray replace on the active roster?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 10: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds throws the baseball. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 10: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds throws the baseball. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Sonny Gray returns to the Reds lineup tonight.

Sonny Gray, the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starter, has been on the injured list with a mid-back strain since September 11th. But Gray will return to the hill tonight in another big-time game for Cincinnati. Who’ll be the unlucky member of the Reds to be taken off the active roster?

The Reds roster currently stands at 28, and recently Cincinnati put together it’s 40-man playoff pool. With Gray coming off the IL, a corresponding move must be made. There’s also the prospect of Wade Miley coming off the injured list very soon as well. Will it be a position player or a pitcher?

While most fans would just assume that one of the team’s 13 pitchers would be swapped out for Gray, don’t be so quick to assume that. Yes, for the majority of the season, David Bell has stuck with that number, but as the postseason looms and Gray’s conditioning will certainly be in question, it may not be the most prudent move to make.

A likely move would be to option Sal Romano back to Prasco Park. However, Romano is out of options, meaning he’d be designated for assignment. Attempting to send Big Sally to the alternate site would expose him to waivers. Romano has only pitched in two games, covering 1.1 innings, but he’s faced the minimum and has yet to allow an opposing batter to reach base.

Robert Stephenson is in the same boat as Romano, and has no minor league options remaining. Stephenson has a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio, with 12 K’s to just three free passes. But, only nine innings of work, Bob Steve has given up eight home runs – including back-to-back-back homers in his last outing. Stephenson could easily be a roster casualty later today.

Tejay Antone is another possibility, as the Cincinnati Reds could option the right-handed rookie to the alternate site without fear of losing him via waivers. However, Antone has been one of the more reliable and versatile arms the team has, and it seems unlikely he’ll be sent to Prasco Park.

Don’t count out Cincinnati removing a position player from the active roster. While fans have been excited to see Tyler Stephenson on the 28-man roster, he’s not been utilized as much more than a pinch hitter or DH. The Reds have two other catchers on the roster and Kyle Farmer can don a mask and chest protector in a pinch.

Aristides Aquino has already been bounced back-and-forth this season, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see The Punisher sent back to the alternate site. With Nick Senzel back on the roster, Cincinnati is currently carrying six outfielders.

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We’ll find out later today what course of action the Cincinnati Reds take. Logically it would seem to be between Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson, though I wouldn’t be shocked if Tyler Stephenson was sent back to the alternate site. Regardless, having Sonny Gray back on the roster in time for the final playoff push is great news.