Scott Schebler has spent the entire month of August on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. He’ll play for Triple-A Louisville the next three nights, with the hope he could be ready for the weekend series in Atlanta.
The next question is: how does manager Bryan Price juggle playing time when Schebler returns?
Schebler struggled in July after putting up pretty good numbers over the first three months of 2017. At this point, he’s hitting .228/.304/.473 with 23 home runs and 45 RBI. It’s reasonable to believe that some of that poor July performance* is due to the shoulder injury. It’s unreasonable to believe that Schebler isn’t going to be a solid big league
left right fielder going forward. After all, the guy is just 26 and he’s been a roughly league-average hitter over parts of three seasons. There’s still a bit of upside there, especially since he has light-tower power.
*Schebler was .136/.200/.284 in July, by far his worst of the season. At the end of June, Schebler was hitting .259/.338/.537 overall, with 20 home runs. You can see how much the disastrous July has caused Schebler’s season slash line to drop.
But the Reds have Jesse Winker playing in
left right field right now, and many (including yours truly) believe that Winker is the Reds’ left right fielder of the future.
C. Trent addressed this issue yesterday:
When Schebler does return, the Reds outfield mix will be a bit crowded. Corner outfield prospect Jesse Winker figures to remain in the majors and continue receiving regular playing time, and the Reds could elect to see what Patrick Kivlehan could do with more chances as well. The right-handed batting Kivlehan started over the lefty Winker in right Monday with the Chicago Cubs pitching left-hander Jose Quintana.
“It’s that time of year for teams in our position where you start to take a look at some of the other guys in the system,” Price said. “I don’t want to penalize the guys who are here and who have been performing well, but they’re going to get a little bit more periodic time off.”
Winker is ready. No reason for that kid to return to Triple-A. Ever. Kivlehan? Are we kidding here? I mean, I like Kivlehan, and I don’t mind having his bat on the Reds bench at all. But he’s a fifth outfielder. His appearances should be rare, given the fact that the Reds have four other outfielders who need playing time.
The best solution, as far as I can tell, is the same one we’ve been talking about for a while. Take some at-bats from Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton (especially Billy) and spread them around. You can find enough playing time for these four, and all deserve a chance to show what they can do for the last six weeks of the season.