Thursday, May 19, 2022

Reds activate Jesse Winker as Cincinnati looks for offensive boost in NL wild card race

The Reds announced Friday that All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker has been activated from the injured list. He’s been out since Aug. 15 due to an intercostal strain and, boy, the offense could sure use the boost Winker is capable of providing. 

Winker, 28, is hitting .307/.395/.560 (141 OPS+) with 32 doubles, 24 homers, 71 RBI and 77 runs in 109 games this season. Behind the powerful nucleus of Winker, Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto, the Reds charged toward playoff position with a robust offense in July and the first part of August. 

In the past few weeks, however, the Reds have been struggling mightily against mostly sub-par competition. When it wasn’t sub-par, it was head-to-head battles that matter for playoff contention. Here are the Reds’ last six series: 

  • Lost two of three to the Marlins
  • Lost two of three to the Cardinals
  • Lost two of three to the Tigers
  • Lost two of three to the Cubs
  • Lost two of three to the Cardinals
  • Lost two of three to the Pirates

On Sept. 1, in the second game of a doubleheader, the Reds exploded for 12 runs. In the eight games before that, however, they averaged 2.9 runs per game while hitting .198/.247/.324 as a team. In their last 10 games leading up to Friday, they have averaged 2.7 runs per game while hitting .209/.266/.335. 

If Winker can get things going, the good news for the Reds is the schedule is, again, soft after this weekend. They deal with the mighty Dodgers for three games this weekend, but then it’s three vs. the Pirates, four vs. the Nationals, two in Chicago against the White Sox — who will have clinched by then and will have little to play for — and then three in Pittsburgh. 

Of course, the Reds have had a soft schedule for several weeks and have been losing. At some point they need to start winning. Perhaps getting Winker back helps turn the tide. 

The Reds enter Friday one game back of the Cardinals for the second NL wild card with the Padres (a half-game back of St. Louis) in between. The Padres and Cardinals have a three-game series in St. Louis this weekend

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