3 Reds players who've underperformed this season and need to step up down the stretch

if the Reds are going to make a playoff push, they're going to need some of their best players to step up.

Cincinnati Reds players Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds players Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages
2 of 3

If the Cincinnati Reds really are playoff contenders, and by all accounts they are, they'll need to prove it down the stretch. There are fewer than 50 games remaining in the season, and the Reds are going to need to elevate their level of play over the next several weeks.

There have been some underwhelming performances by key players this season, and so far, this Reds team has been able to overcome those shortcomings.

But with the playoffs in sight, Cincinnati will need those big-name performers to play up to their potential. Which three players, who've underperformed so far this season, need to step up down the stretch?

1. The Reds need Jonathan India to step up down the stretch.

How much was Jonathan India's injury affecting his performance prior to his placement on the IL? There's honestly no way of knowing, but the hope is that India will be back on the field later this week.

India was a house of fire earlier this season, helping to transform the Reds identity and became one of the most vocal leaders on the field and in the clubhouse. Through the first two months of the season, India was hitting .282/.369/.426 and was setting the table for the Reds offense.

But things quickly changed for India once the calendar flipped to June. The former NL Rookie of the Year is hitting just .216/.297/.389 since June 1st, has seen the addition of several infielders to the Reds roster, heard his name tossed about in trade rumors, and is currently dealing with a foot injury.

But, if the Cincinnati Reds are going to make a serious run at the postseason, they're going to need that version of Jonathan India that everyone saw back during the first two months of the season. If India is able to return in the coming days and reclaim his spot atop the Reds lineup, big things could start happening for the Reds down the stretch.

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.

3. The Reds need Nick Lodolo to step up down the stretch.

This one was a little tricky, and Hunter Greene's name could easily slide in here as well. But before his injury, Greene was pitching very well. Nick Lodolo, on the other hand, looked dreadful before his IL stint. Let's hope he comes back with a vengeance.

During spring training, Lodolo received the fan vote to be the Reds Opening Day starter. That instead went to Greene. When Greene received his contract extension, many fans were hoping that Lodolo would have received such a deal.

But fast forward to the present, and I'm not sure that sentiment is the same anymore. Greene, prior to his hip injury, was pitching rather well. He was hitting his spots and the strikeouts were up. Over his final five starts before heading to the injured list, Greene 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA and 41 punch outs in just over 30 innings of work.

Lodolo, however, owns a 6.29 ERA in his seven starts this season. The left-hander is striking out batters and an incredible clip (12.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched), but the long ball has killed him. After giving up just 13 home runs in 103 innings in 2022, through 34.1 innings of wotk, Lodolo has already surrendered 10 round trippers.

All signs point to Nick Lodolo returning later this month. If he's fully healthy, the Cincinnati Reds need some strong performances out of the former first-round pick. The Reds starting rotation has been harshly criticized of late, but a healthy Lodolo would help right the ship. Cincinnati needs Lodolo back on the bump down the stretch.

3 Reds who've excelled in Year 1. 3 first-year Reds players who've exceeded expectations. dark. Next