Ben Lively's return from the IL will mean a trip back to the minors for this Reds player

Cincinnati Reds starter Ben Lively is likely to be activated from the IL before Sunday's game in Milwaukee.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Ben Lively
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Ben Lively / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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The last few trips through, the Cincinnati Reds have utilized a four-man starting rotation while some of their top starters are on the injured list.

Sure, Brett Kennedy and Levi Stoudt have grabbed a spot start here and there, but the quartet of Brandon Williamson, Andrew Abbott, Luke Weaver, and Graham Ashcraft have been minding the store while Greene and Lodolo have been out of commission.

But Ben Lively is gearing up to make a start before the All-Star break, and should return to the Reds rotation on Sunday in Milwaukee against the Brewers. With Lively likely to be activated in the near future, the Reds will have to make a corresponding roster move.

Reds reliever Daniel Duarte should be optioned to make room for Ben Lively.

In order to activate Ben Lively from the 15-day IL, the Cincinnati Reds will need to send someone back to the minors. Daniel Duarte has shown promise since returning to the big leagues this season, but with minor league options remaining, the right-hander will likely return to Triple-A Lousiville this weekend.

Duarte, who's 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA, lacks the high-leverage ability that the Reds have received from their other relievers this season. With the team in contention for the postseason, having a young, developing relief pitcher is luxury that David Bell and the Reds cannot afford to have this season.

Tony Santillan has already returned to the Reds roster and supplanted Eduardo Salazar in the bullpen. Tejay Antone, as well as Revier Sanmartin and Casey Legumina are nearing returns from their respective injuries.

While he's sure to land in the starting rotation upon his return, Ben Lively's future with the Cincinnati Reds is also in question as they continue to get healthy. How will Cincinnati's starting rotation shake out once Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene return?

You have to imagine the Reds rotation will consist of Greene, Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Andrew Abbott. That means Lively will be in a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation with Luke Weaver and Brandon Williamson. Reds GM Nick Krall will have a ton of interesting and difficult decisions to make in the near future.

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