The Cincinnati Reds have been slammed by injuries in August and September. Now, starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft is out for the year. On Monday, the Reds transferred Ashcraft to the 60-day injured list with a right big toe stress reaction.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 18, 2023
Reds Injuries Piling Up
Reds’ Resiliency on Trial
The Reds’ injuries have made an exciting season with unexpected contention all the more stressful. With Ashcraft lost for the year, Hunter Greene is the only member of Cincinnati’s Opening Day rotation that remains active in September. Left-hander Nick Lodolo has missed the bulk of the year with a stress reaction in his tibia. He was pulled off a rehab assignment in August after re-aggravating the injury. Right-hander Connor Overton underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Luis Cessa was released by the club in May and has bounced around in 2023, last playing for the Washington Nationals‘ Triple-A squad before being released once more. Now, the rotation is primarily staffed by rookies. Over the weekend, two rookies and the second-year Greene combined to take two of three from the New York Mets.
However, the Reds have injuries across the board, not just with the pitching staff. Infielder Matt McLain, who is second on the roster in WAR this season, strained his oblique in August and is yet to return. As of a few days ago, he’s slated to begin taking batting practice on Monday.
In addition, the Reds lost multiple players in recent weeks to COVID-19. Outfielder Stuart Fairchild and pitcher Alex Young are expected to be activated shortly. Young traveled with the team to New York but was not placed on the active roster.
Finally, two of the club’s three catchers are banged up: Curt Casali had his rehab assignment halted partway through due to an illness. After suffering a left foot contusion in July, he is still expected to rejoin the club in September. Fell0w catcher Luke Maile is day-to-day after being hit by a pitch in the left hand on Friday.
Postseason Still In Sight
However much the Reds’ injuries have hurt the team, the remaining healthy players haven’t skipped a beat. Cincinnati has stayed afloat during these lean times, posting an 8-6 record in September. Entering Monday’s matchup with the Minnesota Twins, the Reds remain right in the thick of the National League Wild-Card race. The Reds are a half-game behind the third-place spot and only a game behind the second slot. The third wild card is tied between the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. The Arizona Diamondbacks hold the second spot.
Matt McLain, arguably the #Reds best offensive player, went on the IL on 8/28, since then, the Reds are 8-7.
Graham Ashcraft, arguably the Reds best pitcher, went on the IL on 9/2, since then, the Reds are 6-4.
Not including COVID-IL and other injuries.
Pretty wild. #Reds
— Bryce Spalding (@bryce_spalding) September 14, 2023
Despite the encouraging signs, the Reds still face an uphill battle. Of their four opponents in the wild card race, the Reds hold the tiebreaker over two: the Cubs and the Diamondbacks. However, if the San Francisco Giants and/or the Marlins tie with Cincinnati, the Reds lose out. The best option for the club is to win out and secure a postseason spot by overall record alone. If the team’s current form is any indication, the Reds are in the race until the end. When key players eventually return, the Reds will likely be an even greater force. However, with Ashcraft out for the season, the Reds rotation does not look strong enough to make a deep October run. With so many young players that are relatively unknown quantities, the Reds could be a surprise inclusion in the postseason field next month.
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