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Reds should target Luke Jackson following Ronald Acuña Jr.’s injury

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 25: Luke Jackson #77 of the Atlanta Braves pitches during a game between the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 25: Luke Jackson #77 of the Atlanta Braves pitches during a game between the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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Following the devastating news that Braves’ superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. will be out for the remainder of the 2021 season, Atlanta will undoubtedly become a seller at the trade deadline. Are there any players the Cincinnati Reds‘ front office could target to bolster their squad heading into the second-half of the season?

Acuña Jr., trying to make a play on a fly ball to right field in yesterday’s game versus the Miami Marlins, landed awkwardly and had to be carted off the field. Further evaluation revealed a torn ACL that will require surgery.

The Braves were already barely staying afloat in the race for the National League East Division crown, but Acuña Jr.’s injury basically wipes out any chance Atlanta had to make a run at the postseason. While it’s unlikely we’ll see a complete rebuild from the Braves, some players who may not return in 2022 could be on the trade block.

Luke Jackson would really bolster the Reds’ bullpen.

Let’s face it, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, though improved, still has many holes. While Nick Krall and the front office are banking on the return of some valuable relievers to help following the All-Star break, adding an arm or two from outside the organization would help as well.

Luke Jackson is having a solid year out of the Atlanta bullpen. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 34 punch outs over 33 innings this season. Jackson will turn 30 years old next month, and is a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.

Jackson was a former first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2010. He’s is enjoying a career-year with a 1.182 WHIP and 275 ERA. Jackson’s FIP of 4.05, however, is a bit concerning. Is Jackson more lucky than good? Perhaps, as his career-FIP sits at 4.05.

Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and with Cincinnati’s bullpen ranking among the worse in the NL, adding an arm like Jackson’s would be a step in the right direction. The right-hander has experience closing out games, as he locked down 18 saves in 25 attempts in 2019.

Again, baseball fans shouldn’t expect a fire sale from the Atlanta Braves, as Acuña Jr.’s timeline for recovery is expected to be 9-10 months. However, with Marcell Ozuna likely lost for the season, and Mike Soroka out for the rest of 2021, the Braves’ best strategy is to regroup and try to make something happen in 2022.

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The Reds could benefit from the Braves’ unfortunate set of circumstances, and attempt to shore up the relief corps with the addition of Luke Jackson. Veteran Jesse Chavez is another name Cincinnati could consider. The right-hander has 12 strikeouts in 7.2 innings and a 0.652 WHIP in five games this season.

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