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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There are now 21 games remaining on the schedule for the Cincinnati Reds this season. Yes, Reds fans, the 2022 season will soon mercifully come to a close. But not before a handful of players get a chance to make an impression on the coaching staff and the front office.

September is a time to shine for a small number of players who are squarely on the roster bubble. Others are trying to make a good impression before heading into the offseason. Either way, there are several players on the Reds roster with a lot to gain over the final few weeks of the 2022 season.

The Reds roster now stands at 28, and David Bell has shown a penchant toward allowing some of the up-and-coming players to get a fair amount of reps over the past week or so. Which four Cincinnati Reds players have the most to gain over the final few weeks of the 2022 season?

1. Reds IF Spencer Steer has the most to gain down the stretch.

Spencer Steer has been getting regular opportunities to contribute and has played all over the field. While Steer will certainly be part of the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster in 2023, what role will he play?

One could easily make the case that Steer should be the starting third baseman over Kyle Farmer. Others will argue that Farmer's tenure with the team, leadership, and production demand that he be the team's starting third baseman next season.

Spencer Steer will have a place on next year's team, and going into the 2023 season, will probably serve a similar role to what fans had seen from Brandon Drury and are currently seeing from Donovan Solano. Steer will be part of the Cincinnati Reds everyday lineup next season, but his production over the final few weeks could raise his standing heading into next spring.

2. Reds SS Jose Barrero has the most to gain down the stretch.

Jose Barrero has proven a few things since being called up to the big leagues following the August trade deadline. First, the 24-year-old has the skillset to play shortstop on a daily basis. Barrero has all the tools teams a looking for when it comes to elite-level defense.

Second, and probably most problematic, is that Barrero has struggled to catch up to major league pitching. This is very perplexing because Barrero excelled at both Double-A and Triple-A last season. However, after undergoing wrist surgery this past spring, Barrero struggled to regain his form in the batters' box at Triple-A, and he's yet to appear comfortable in the big leagues as well.

Barrero has made adjustments at the plate, and in some ways those changes have helped. The shortstop no longer looks completely lost at the dish. However, since the calendar flipped to September, Barrero is slashing just .200/.263/.229 with a strikeout-rate of nearly 40.0%.

Jose Barrero is probably the odds-on favorite to be the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop heading into spring training. But he'll have some competition. Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain will both be in major league camp next spring, and if Barrero cannot overcome his shortcomings, he'll quickly be out of job.

Barrero needs to use the final few weeks of the 2022 season to slow down. Anyone who watches baseball long enough can tell that he's pressing. Barrero is trying so hard to find success that he's not focused on just making contact. Barrero needs a strong close to the season in order to feel secure heading into 2023.

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.

4. Reds C Chuckie Robinson has the most to gain down the stretch.

Chuckie Robinson is getting his opportunities, but the young backstop has done very little since being called up to the big leagues. Robinson, much like the aforementioned Jose Barrero, seems to be pressing when he's at the plate.

The results have not been good. Robinson has an aggressive approach at the dish and is hitting just .091 with an OPS of .273. Granted, Robinson has only received 33 at-bats, but with the roster crunch coming very soon, the 27-year-old needs to find a way to stand out.

The Reds have six catchers currently on the 40-man roster. Tyler Stephenson will be the starter next season, but he'll need a capable backup. Aramis Garcia may be that guy, but the former second-round pick has shelved with an injury. The Reds also have Austin Romine, Mark Kolozsvary, and Michael Papierski on the 40-man roster.

With Daniel Vellojin likely to be added to the Cincinnati Reds roster this offseason, fans should assume that the team will only carry one more catcher on the offseason roster. Will it be Chuckie Robinson?

The former 21st-round pick has allowed one passed ball and thrown out just 18% of the opposing base stealers. Those numbers and his slash line will need to improve over the next few weeks if Robinson hopes to be part of the Reds roster over the winter. With only Romine on the active roster, Robinson will get his chances down the stretch.

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