The Reds are missing the straw that stirs the drink

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 19: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 19: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have hit a wall. Well, to be fair, they can’t even do that right now. Cincinnati’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff. Ever since Jesse Winker left the lineup with an intercostal injury on August 15th, the Reds’ offense has been in a rut.

Winker, who went to his first All-Star Game this season, seems to have been the straw that stirs the drink, as his absence has created a veritable black hole in Cincinnati’s lineup. Tyler Naquin did an admirable job filling in for a few games, but now two weeks removed from Winker’s placement on the 10-day IL, the lack of production is clearly visible.

The Reds have dealt with umpteen different injuries this season. Mike Moustakas missed more than two months with a foot injury, Joey Votto missed a month with a broken thumb, Nick Castellanos was absent for three weeks with a wrist injury, and Nick Senzel is still on the shelf.

But, through it all, the Cincinnati Reds have been able to weather the storm. That is, until Jesse Winker went on the injured list. The Reds’ slugger, according to Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, has resumed some baseball activities (running and playing catch) but is likely weeks away from returning to the lineup.

Jesse Winker’s absence has crippled the Reds’ offensive production.

How badly are the Cincinnati Reds missing Jesse Winker? Let’s look at the numbers. Prior to Winker’s stint on the IL, the Reds ranked second in the NL in batting average (.253) and on-base percentage (.334), and slugging percentage (.433), and third in wRC+ (104).

Without their All-Star outfielder in the everyday lineup, Cincinnati’s offense has cratered. The Reds rank 9th in the NL in slugging percentage (.399), 12th in on-base percentage (.284) and wRC+ (77), and 13th in batting average (.212) since August 16th.

Turning things around without the steady presence of Jesse Winker in the lineup is not an easy task. David Bell has run out the likes of Max Schrock, Aristides Aquino, and Shogo Akiyama, but none of those three have come close to providing any measure of success. Strangely, Schrock is probably Bell’s option, and just started his first game in the outfield on August 28th.

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The Redlegs, desperate to snap their current losing streak, will have to weather the storm once again. Cincinnati has two games remaining with the St. Louis Cardinals before a visit from the rebuilding Detroit Tigers over the weekend. Even without Jesse Winker, the Cincinnati Reds need to figure out a way to win ball games.