The Cincinnati Reds’ four-man outfield rotation is over.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman told reporters in Arizona prior to the series finale with the Diamondbacks on Wednesday he is going to play Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler along with Billy Hamilton regularly.
That means Jesse Winker is going to the bench.
"We have to weigh in on what we know Schebler and Duvall have done at the big league level and kind of weigh all of those circumstances," Riggleman said. "That's why we had the four-man rotation to begin with, Winker has done enough in the Minor Leagues, he came up here last year, did a nice job. You can't ignore, though, that the other two guys did hit 30 homers last year. [With] our record as what it is, it's not working. We have to try something else.”
There is no obvious choice, but Winker being the odd man out is surprising since he is the youngest and the biggest prospect.
His .247 batting average is the highest of the four, as is his .356 on-base percentage (by far), but Winker is also the weakest defensive player in the bunch and hasn’t hit for much power.
Hamilton has struggled with the bat throughout his career, but he is an elite defender.
None of the others are quite suited to play in center field every day, so a bad defense gets worse when Hamilton is not in the lineup.
Duvall has nine home runs, nine doubles and 28 RBIs, but he is hitting only .185 with a .277 OBP.
Despite missing some time with an arm injury, Schebler has the best all-around numbers (a .718 on-base plus slugging percentage) at the plate and is better in the field than Winker.
Runs have been surprisingly hard to come by all season for the Reds — with Duvall and Hamilton (batting .205 with a .290 OBP) arguably the biggest reasons the offense has failed to reach expectations.
Trying to get the veterans going makes some sense, but since the Reds would need a miracle to get back into contention, they might be thinking more at-bats for Schebler and Duvall will help one or both become more trade-able assets between now and the end of July.
The team also activated closer Raisel Iglesias from the disabled list, and Riggleman confirmed veteran starter Homer Bailey is going to the bullpen, a move first mentioned Tuesday.