Reds: Sonny Gray’s return will be the death knell for Jose De Leon

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Jose De Leon #87 of the Cincinnati Reds gives the baseball to manager David Bell #25 during the fifth inning. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Jose De Leon #87 of the Cincinnati Reds gives the baseball to manager David Bell #25 during the fifth inning. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Sonny Gray’s return is imminent, which means Jose De Leon‘s time on the Cincinnati Reds roster is just about up. De Leon started Sunday’s series finale versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, and while the right-hander racked up nine strikeouts, he also allowed six earned runs.

De Leon’s first start of the 2021 season started rocky, but the Puerto Rican native recovered nicely and helped lead the Reds to a victory. The 28-year-old even helped his own cause with an RBI base hit. While De Leon is certainly talented, he hasn’t done enough to stick in the big leagues just yet.

The Reds will likely option Jose De Leon prior to activating Sonny Gray.

The Reds will need to free up a spot on the 26-man roster when Sonny Gray returns later this week. The two-time All-Star has been recovering from a back injury. Jose De Leon isn’t the only choice, but he may be the most obvious choice.

Cincinnati sees the potential that De Leon offers, and they’ve viewed him as a starting pitcher since the offseason began. He was to be in competition with Jeff Hoffman, Tejay Antone, and Michael Lorenzen for the final spot in the starting rotation.

However, De Leon was granted a fourth minor-league option, and that reasons alone might be enough for De Leon to be the odd-man out when Gray returns. There’s also that gargantuan 7.71 ERA, which is the most among Reds starting pitchers.

All is not lost for Jose De Leon.

If Jose De Leon is indeed the player who’s removed from the Reds active roster, he’ll still be eligible to return later this season. That minor-league option allows De Leon to yo-yo back and forth between Triple-A Louisville and Cincinnati all season, and the potential exists for the former Los Angeles Dodger to garner a few more starts as well.

If the team is looking for a spot starter, Tejay Antone would be their best bet. However, once Michael Lorenzen returns, Jeff Hoffman could take that role as well. Vladimir Gutierrez, Tony Santillan, and Brandon Finnegan are also options.

Next. The Reds are on the path to greatness...maybe

Such is life in the major leagues. I don’t think we’ll have seen the last of Jose De Leon this season, and there’s a certainly a chance he makes presence felt in the bullpen as well. The Reds could choose to option Cionel Perez, or release Cam Bedrosian, but the smart money is on De Leon.