Reds manager David Bell told reporters (including Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that outfielder Harrison Bader won’t return to the field this year, and that the odds of right-hander Tejay Antone making it back before 2024 are “remote.” While both players were already known to be out for the remainder of the regular season due to their recent placements on the injured list, Bell’s comments pour cold water on hopes of either player making an impact for Cincinnati this postseason in the event the Reds are able to claim one of the NL Wild Card spots. Pending the end of tonight’s game against Pittsburgh, the Reds currently sit two games behind the Cubs for the final NL Wild Card spot. The club is also one game back of the Marlins, the top NL club currently outside the postseason picture.
Antone made just five appearances out of the bullpen for the Reds this year due to injuries, but was dominant in that limited action with a 1.59 ERA and a 33.3% strikeout rate in 5 2/3 innings of work. Given the right-hander’s strong track record in Cincinnati when healthy, he figures to feature prominently in the club’s plans next year even in the event he doesn’t return this season.
The same can’t be said for Bader, a pending free agent who joined the Reds after being placed on waivers by the Yankees at the end of August. Bader had struggled with the bat in New York, slashing just .240/.278/.365 in 84 games with the club, but more than made up for it with his superlative glovework in center field. Unfortunately, his time in Cincinnati saw his work with the bat deteriorate even more as he posted a brutal .161/.235/.194 slash line in 14 games that was good for a wRC+ of just 15. That said, between his strong defense in center field and a much more promising career wRC+ of 92, Bader figures to hit free agency after the season with a chance to land a healthy contract.
Today’s injury news for the Reds isn’t all bad, however. Rookie infielder Matt McLain, who went on the injured list with an oblique strain nearly a month ago, is on the verge of returning per MLB.com. As discussed by Bell, McLain is headed for a rehab assignment at the Triple-A level and figures to play two games there before returning to the major league club, with Tuesday’s game against the Guardians standing as the club’s current target for McLain’s return. Assuming he’s fully healthy, McLain should bolster the club’s lineup in a big way given his .290/.357/.507 slash line in 403 trips to the plate this year.
More from the NL Central…
Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman made his first start since July this afternoon, taking the ball against the Rockies at Wrigley Field. Stroman was activated from the injured list earlier this month to join the club’s bullpen and did well in that role, striking out four while allowing only an unearned run on two hits and a walk in three innings of work. Stroman’s return to the rotation left right-hander Javier Assad as the odd man out in the club’s starting plans. That being said, with Stroman not yet fully built up to a starter’s workload, Assad took the ball in relief of the veteran for four scoreless innings today, lowering the youngster’s ERA to 2.88 on the season. With Stroman back in the rotation, Assad figures to be a valuable multi-inning weapon for the Cubs out of the bullpen down the stretch. Chicago has plenty of high leverage opportunities available with Adbert Alzolay, Michael Fulmer, and Brad Boxberger all currently on the injured list.
Brewers outfielder Tyrone Taylor hasn’t played since Wednesday and was once again held out of the lineup today, with manager Craig Counsell indicating to MLB.com that the 29-year-old was dealing with some hamstring tightness. The club has decided to act cautiously rather than risk losing Taylor to an injury that could keep him out of the postseason, though Counsell added that he hopes Taylor will be able to return to the lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Marlins. Taylor was ice cold to start the year, resulting in a lackluster season slash line of just .233/.270/.408 in 210 plate appearances, but he’s been one of Milwaukee’s strongest offensive contributors since the start of August with a scorching hot .291/.341/.581 slash line including 11 doubles, a triple, and seven homers in 126 trips to the plate. Blake Perkins has gotten additional reps in the outfield in recent days with Taylor temporarily shelved.