The Cincinnati Reds are finally returning to full strength. Donovan Solano was just activated on Tuesday, Jonathan India and Max Schrock returned last week, and it sounds as Tyler Naquin will begin a rehab assignment very soon.
But with all these players returning from injury, David Bell is going to have some interesting decisions to make with his lineup. One adjustment the Reds' skipper should make is to take Nick Senzel out of the everyday lineup and turn the former first-round pick into a part-time player.
Senzel has proven that he can stay somewhat healthy; both his trips to the IL this season were due to illness, not injury. But despite getting more consistent at-bats, the 26-year-old still can't seem to figure things out at the plate. With so many players upping their game, Senzel can't continue to occupy a regular spot in the Cincinnati Reds lineup.
Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel is struggling mightily.
Injuries crippled any kind of growth that Nick Senzel may have enjoyed between his rookie season in 2019 and 2020. Senzel ended his rookie year on the IL with a shoulder injury, missed half of the 2020 season with illness, and was placed on the IL last May after incurring a knee injury. He played just 36 games in 2021.
But Senzel came into camp healthy this past spring. However, the one thing that was supposed to be his calling card has let him down this season. Senzel was always good contact hitter with a high on-base percentage. While not a power-hitter per se, most scouts assumed Senzel would be good for 15 or so home runs per season.
This season, Senzel is hitting .204/.263/.252 with an OPS+ of only 39. According to FanGraphs, Senzel has 6.1% walk-rate and a wRC+ of just 43. If you flip over to Senzel's Baseball Savant page, you'll see a lot of blue (which is not a good thing). Senzel is in the 30% percentile of nearly every meaningful category.
David Bell can no longer continue to run Nick Senzel onto the field every night. The Reds manager needs to be selective about the matchups and choose the games in which Senzel starts very carefully. With Albert Almora Jr. on the roster, Cincinnati has a very capable outfielder who can play up the middle. Almora Jr. is hitting .286 and has four round trippers on the season.
Senzel was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday night despite the Los Angeles Dodgers having left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson on the mound. Per Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, this was just an off day. Perhaps Senzel needs more than just one off day per week.