Reds roster demands Jesse Winker starts in center field tonight

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 02: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 02: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

With Jesse Winker starting Friday’s game in center field, the outfield defense may appear to be the weakest it’s been all year. However, with the Cincinnati Reds roster constraints David Bell is dealing with tonight, starting Winker in center field is not only advisable, it’s necessary.

Bell has run out some odd lineups on occasion this season. During the last series we saw Jose Barrero inserted into the outfield having never played there during his professional career. We’ve seen Tyler Stephenson taking reps in left field, and since Winker’s injury, Max Schrock has seen plenty of time on the outfield grass.

Jesse Winker returns to the Reds lineup tonight.

Tonight, Jesse Winker makes his long awaited return to the Reds’ lineup and this Cincinnati team desperately needs his bat to make some noise. The Redlegs are four games below .500 with Winker out of the lineup and have fallen one game back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the chase for the final Wild Card spot in the National League.

With Shogo Akiyama nursing a sore hamstring, and though the Japanese outfielder is available off the bench, Bell decided to start Winker in center field and put Schrock in left. Nick Castellanos will occupy his normal spot in right field.

This is a huge series for the Cincinnati Reds. Having lost seven straight series and dropped out of the second Wild Card spot, Bell’s squad needs to right the ship. It won’t be easy, however, as the Redlegs welcome the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers to town. That said, the Reds took two of three from LA at Chavez Ravine, so maybe there’s reason for optimism.

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Tonight’s starter for the Dodgers is Walker Buehler. Jesse Winker is 4-for-12 against the right-hander with two round trippers and an .833 slugging percentage. Mike Moustakas is in the starting lineup as well, as the three-time All-Star is 4-for-11 lifetime versus Buehler.