2. The Reds need Tyler Stephenson to step up down the stretch.
Has there been a more disappointing performance this season among this group than Tyler Stephenson. The former first-round pick has been woeful this season - both behind the plate and in the batters' box.
To be fair, Stephenson suffered a major injury last season, and may still be recovering from the broken clavicle bone he suffered shortly after the All-Star break last season. But if he's feeling no ill effects from that injury, then Stephenson's struggles are worrisome.
The 2023 season began with Stephenson supposedly sharing time between designated hitter, catcher, and first base. The experiment at first base was blown up almost as quickly as it started, and carrying three catchers has really taken away from Stephenson's preparation behind the dish.
Since Curt Casali landed on the IL, and even before that, Reds manager David Bell began giving Stephenson more and more time behind the plate. That appears to have helped a little bit, as the 26-year-old at least looks more comfortable back in his usual position.
But Tyler Stephenson's bat has been quiet all season. The Cincinnati Reds need Tyler Stephenson to get back to being the player he knows he can be. After posting and OPS of .823 through his first two-plus season, Stephenson's OPS this season is below .700. That number's got to change down the stretch.