4 Reds players with the most to gain down the stretch of the 2022 season

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Fernando Cruz
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Fernando Cruz / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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3. Reds RHP Fernando Cruz has the most to gain down the stretch.

Fernando Cruz can add starting pitcher to his resumé. The Cincinnati Reds rookie toed the rubber on Tuesday evening and went a little less than two innings in Game 2 of he team's doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Cruz had a very nice season at Triple-A Louisville, and after toiling away in the minor leagues for years, at 32 years old, the right-hander finally realized his big league dream. Cruz has looked very good since coming to the major leagues as well.

A closer at Triple-A this season, Cruz isn't going to unseat Alexis Diaz. But the Puerto Rican has seven punch outs in 6.1 innings, a WHIP of 0.947, and a 1.47 ERA. Cruz will probably not start another game, but the former sixth-round draft pick will definitely be given several opportunities down the stretch to prove that be belongs in the Cincinnati bullpen.

The Reds have a bunch of relievers on the IL, so Fernando Cruz will need to use the final few weeks of the 2022 season to solidify his standing on the team heading into next season. Lucas Sims, Tony Santillan, and Jeff Hoffman will all be back in 2023.

Cruz has the advantage of a couple minor league options and team control that would carry him until this late-30s. Those two things alone will be enough to see Cincinnati hang on to Cruz throughout the offseason, but strong showing over the final few weeks will put the right-handed hurler in contention for an expanded role in 2023.