Reds look to dull the Rays' shine as Tyler Stephenson is set to return to GABP this weekend

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages
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Reds expect Tyler Stephenson back in the lineup this weekend.

Barring an unforeseen setback, catcher Tyler Stephenson will be returning to the club for the first time since suffering a broken right thumb on June 9th against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's not hyperbole to say Stephenson is the most impactful player on the Cincinnati Reds roster.

For a team that is 25 games under .500, the Reds are 17-22 when the 25-year-old slugger is in the starting lineup and an embarrassing 12-32 when he's not penciled into manager David Bell's lineup card. An ill-timed trip to the IL is the only thing preventing Stephenson from making his first All-Star appearance.

Slashing .305/.361/.468 with five homers and 31 RBIs in 141 at-bats, the Georgia native consistently provides the most quality at-bats of anyone on the roster. However, he's more than just a dangerous bat in the lineup. Behind the dish, he's gunned down 32% of would-be base stealers easily eclipsing the 25% league average. Obviously, Stephenson is the complete package.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Charlie Goldsmith, manager David Bell, discussing Stephenson's return, was quoted as saying, "he's close and will join the team on Saturday or Sunday." I feel confident in speaking for all of Reds Country when I say, please activate the slugger as soon as possible.

Prediction: Reds vs. Rays

So much for home cooking. The Cincin are a woeful 15-28 at GABP this season. Unfortunately, Cincinnati's home record will not improve this weekend.

Look for Tampa Bay to capture two of three as the Reds will conclude their first half with a six-game road trip versus the 2022 juggernaut known as the New York Yankees and the division rival St. Louis Cardinals.

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