3 players who need to step up to keep Reds in contention

Injuries have crippled the Reds down the stretch, but they're still in the playoff hunt.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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2. Elly De La Cruz needs to step up to keep the Reds in contention.

A lot of fans forget that Elly De La Cruz is just 21 years old. There was also so much media hype surrounding the budding young star that Reds Country couldn't help but be enamored by his monster exit velocity and lightning fast speed on the base paths.

But the strikeouts are piling up. No, it's not reason to abandon ship and declare the Reds shorstop a bust. Stop it! But it is concerning for a team that's trying to make a playoff push to have one of their most talented base runners unable to get on base.

De La Cruz has 122 strikeouts on the season. Through 341 plate appearances, that equates to a strikeout-rate of 35.8-percent. But since August 1st, De La Cruz has gone down on strikeouts 54 times in 134 plate appearances. That's good for a strikeout-rate of 40.3-percent.

Three times during that stretch, De La Cruz has worn the golden sombrero. But more alarming is De La Cruz's .263 on-base percentage over the past month. If De La Cruz is not on base, he's unable to use his greatest gift - his speed.

It's a lot to ask of a 21-year-old rookie, but with Jonathan India, Matt McLain, and Joey Votto out of the lineup, the Cincinnati Reds are going to need Elly De La Cruz to step up in order to keep them in playoff contention.