Jesse Winker has been out of the Cincinnati Reds lineup since the middle of August with an intercostal injury. While the team survived the initial blow of losing possibly their best hitter, the strain of not having Winker in the lineup over the past month has caught up with David Bell’s club of late.
The Reds are reeling, having fallen behind both the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres in the chase for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Entering play today, Cincinnati is 1.5 games back of the Redbirds and trail the Friars by a half-game.
Winker’s absence is a big reason why this Reds club has dropped seven consecutive series and lost four straight games. The Redlegs need their team leader back in the worst way, and after beginning a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville earlier this week, I’d say we can expect Da Wink back any day now.
That spells bad news for a few players who haven’t yet performed up to their capabilities of late. Plenty of Cincinnati players, both in the field and on the mound, have been struggling. Who’s most likely to get the axe when Jesse Winker returns to the lineup?
1. Jesse Winker could replace Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin.
Under normal circumstances, Tyler Naquin’s name would not be among those mentioned as a possible causality of Jesse Winker’s return. However, since colliding with infielder Jose Barrero in an attempt to make a catch during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals last week, Naquin has been out of the lineup.
Naquin was one of the bright spots when Winker hit the IL last month. Since Winker has been out of the Reds lineup, Naquin slashed .360/.415/.680 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. Cincinnati skipper has called Naquin’s availability day-to-day, but with the Redlegs in the heat of the playoff chase, his roster spot may be in question.
Tyler Naquin was a terrific pickup earlier this year on behalf of Nick Krall and the Reds’ front office. The left-handed slugger has put up career numbers this year and is squarely in the mix to be part of Cincinnati’s starting outfield in 2022. However, the timing of this injury could see Naquin hit the IL and Winker return to the active roster.