4 struggling Reds players who need to turn it around before drastic decisions arrive

Let's hope these players turn things around, and fast!
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jeimer Candelario
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jeimer Candelario / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds have handled their business in the early-going. But after sweeping the Chicago White Sox only to turn around and then be swept at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, the Reds have yet to really establish an identity.

There's a lot to like about this year's squad. The Reds are fast and aggressive on the base paths with a ton of depth up and down the lineup. But there are some concerns that are beginning to come to light as well. Injuries have been problematic, the defense has been below-average, and the bats were strangely absent during the three-game series against the Mariners.

There are players like Nick Martini, Jake Fraley, and Fernando Cruz who've gotten off to hot-starts. Still others have yet to have much an impact this season, and Reds Country has growing concerns for a handful of players on Cincinnati's roster. Which Reds players need to turn things around before drastic decisions need to be made?

4 struggling Reds players who need to turn it around before drastic decisions arrive

Jonathan India, Reds 2B

It's much too early to panic, but Jonathan India has endured a tough stretch of late. The Reds leadoff hitter, who had a four-walk outing just over a week ago, has been marred in a horrific slump. India still leads the team in walks, but the strikeouts are beginning to pile up.

Reds manager David Bell may need to shakeup the batting order just a little. Jake Fraley has been blistering baseballs since the season began, and at the very least, Bell should consider elevating the Reds right fielder to the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers.

With TJ Friedl still out until at least next month, the Reds will likely weather the storm at the moment and keep India atop the batting order. But if India's bat is stuck in neutral, some more drastic decisions may need to be made in order to reinvigorate the Reds offense.

Jeimer Candelario, Reds 3B

Obviously Jeimer Candelario is not pleased with his start to the 2024 season. The Reds spent big money on Candelario this offseason with the expectation that he'd be a reliable middle-of-the-order bat. So far, that's not been the case.

Candelario looks lost at the plate and has racked up a lot of strikeouts through the first few weeks of the 2024 season. There's hope, of course, that Candelario will turn things around and return to the player that posted 39 doubles and 22 homers a year ago.

The Reds have already bumped Candelario down in the batting order. Could they move him even lower? That would be the next step if the veteran infielder fails to get going in the near future. With Matt McLain on the IL and Noelvi Marte suspended, the Reds don't have a ton of options.

Lucas Sims, Reds RHP

This one hurts a bit, because Lucas Sims has some of the best stuff on the team. But the Reds reliever is off to a bad start in 2024, and his four-walk performance in Seattle earlier this week has really inflated the numbers. Bell went back to Sims on Friday, and while he did lose another batter to a free pass, the right-hander was able to get out of the inning unscathed.

Sims relies on his fastball/ slider combination to get swings and misses, though the right-hander has been working on adding a splitter. In 2023, Sims was one of the best in terms of whiff rate while also striking out nearly 30% of the batters he faced.

But as Reds fans know all too well, walks will haunt, and Sims' 22.6% walk rate this season is downright spooky. There's every reason to believe that Sims will right the ship, but if he doesn't his role in the bullpen could be altered a bit with a players like Fernando Cruz and Brent Suter getting more high-leverage opportunities in place of Reds' veteran reliever.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Reds 1B

Of all the players who've struggled at the beginning of the 2024 season, Christian Encarnacion-Strand's slow-start might be the most concerning. Encarnacion-Strand has shown flashes of brilliance, but he's drawn just one walk all season and has 21 strikeouts. That cannot be the production from the No. 3 hitter in your lineup.

The decision to bump Candelario down in the lineup was correct, and it's time for Bell to do the same thing to Encarnacion-Strand. Both Fraley and Elly De La Cruz have shown that they belong near the top of the batting order. It's time to elevate those two and get Encarnacion-Strand out of the three-hole.

More Reds News from Blog Red Machine