Jake Fraley's gutsy performance is exactly the spark the Reds needed

Reds outfielder Jake Fraley returned from the injured list in a big way on Friday night.
Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Jake Fraley
Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Jake Fraley / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Boy, have the Cincinnati Reds missed Jake Fraley. The slugger had missed about a month of action with a fractured toe until his return from the injured list on Friday night.

Fraley wasn't in the lineup for Game 1 of the day/ night doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, but the 27-year-old led things off for the Redlegs in Game 2.

Fraley ended his night going 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored a run despite playing through the pain on a stress fracture on the fourth toe of his left foot.

Jake Fraley's gutsy performance is exactly the spark the Reds needed.

The Cincinnati Reds have been rather atorcious in the batters' box of late. Before the MLB trade deadline, the fan banter had centered around the fact that Cincinnati needed to add pitching in order to propel them into the playoff picture.

A month later, fans are singing a different tune. While there've been some questionable performance from a few of the starters and a handful of costly relief appearances, the pitching staff has held their own of late.

However, the Reds hitting has virtually disappeared and strikeouts have been on the rise. Since the All-Star break, the Reds ranked 13th in the league with a .685 OPS and their 469 strikeouts are the most by any team in the NL.

But Jake Fraley's return may help, and it certainly did last night. Fraley lined a single into right field during his first trip to the plate and pounded a double down the right field line against a left-hander during his second at-bat.

Another line drive into the outfield in the bottom of the eighth inning put Fraley on base for the third time in four tries. According to Baseball Savant, two of Fraley's three hits came off the bat at over 101 mph.

With Jake Fraley back, plus the additions of Harrison Bader and Hunter Renfroe, the Cincinnati Reds have some bats that could bolster David Bell's lineup on a nightly basis. The hope is that Jonathan India and Joey Votto aren't far behind.