The Cincinnati Reds have already dealt with their fair share of roster turnover in recent weeks. Alex Blandino’s torn ACL seemed to begin the shuffle, as he was shelved officially for the rest of the season after wrecking his knee on July 20th. Since that time, the Reds have also lost both Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler to shoulder injuries - the former for the rest of the season, the latter out for over a month but expected back this week - while also optioning Tyler Mahle to AAA Louisville and shipping out Adam Duvall to the Atlanta Braves via trade.
Then, the Reds placed Joey Votto on the 10-day DL with knee soreness last week, and the roster at the moment looks like only a shell of what it was during the feel-good weeks leading up to the All Star break. Now, the 2018 season has inched its way to within sniffing distance of rosters expanding in September, and there’s a good likelihood that the Reds will again see a large bit of roster shuffling - though at least this time around it will hopefully just be an influx instead of both addition and subtraction.
Here’s a look at some of the most likely names that we’ll see be called up to the big league roster in the coming weeks.
Tyler Mahle, RHP (23) - 3.18 ERA, 17.0 IP w/ AAA Louisville
Mahle, of course, has already logged 109 IP with the Reds this year, and was chugging along quite nicely as a dependable cog in the rotation until unraveling in a trio of outings in July and being sent back to AAA. What he flashed earlier in the year, though, suggests that he’s not only firmly in the mix for a September callup, but for being a go-to member of the big league rotation for years going forward.
The starting options are already clogged on the big league roster, of course, but Mahle’s absolutely going to be back in the Reds dugout in September with a chance to pitch again before season’s end.
Lucas Sims, RHP (24) - 3.31 ERA, 16.1 IP w/ AAA Louisville
Sims, the 1st round pick of the Atlanta Braves back in 2012, was certainly the centerpiece of the recent Duvall swap. Since coming to the Reds organization, he’s logged a trio of starts, posting an impressive 19/3 K/BB in 16.1 IP, flashing the kind of starting rotation potential that had him once a consensus Top 100 overall prospect a few years back.
The Cincinnati rotation is already a complete logjam, with a current six man rotation, free agent to-be Matt Harvey still around, Cody Reed already up and in the bullpen, and Mahle likely due a recall, too, so how they sort out innings in September might be rather complicated. Still, I’d wager Sims gets a taste of the bigs as a Red, even if it’s in a relief role for now - he does have 10 career appearances as a reliever in the big leagues under his belt already over the last two years.
Matt Wisler, RHP (25) - 1.23 ERA, 14.2 IP w/ AAA Louisville
Wisler, along with Sims and Preston Tucker, was the other piece of the Duvall trade, and he comes with a bit more experience at the big league level than Sims. In fact, he’s set to be arbitration eligible after this year, and will also be out of options beyond 2018, meaning the Reds pretty much will have September games to gauge how much they’re willing to committ to the former top prospect going forward. I’d wager they’re going to do just that, and likely in a relief role despite Wisler having starting experience and having started for AAA Louisville once since swapping clubs.
He’s struck out 17 against just 2 walks in his short stint with the Bats, which is the kind of control and upside the Reds are always desperately searching for with their relievers, and I’d be shocked if he’s not given a shot to prove it next month.
Of course, there are quite a few others who will both be under consideration and likely get recalled, depending upon what, if any, moves are made between now and the end of the August waiver-trade window.
Each of Austin Brice, Tanner Rainey, and Keury Mella have been on the shuttle back and forth between Louisville and Cincinnati this year, and have very good odds of being brought back up for a few larger September paychecks, even if their opportunities to get innings won’t exactly be obvious. The same can be said of Jackson Stephens, too, who is pitching again for Louisville after having a meniscus tear in his knee put a pause on his season.
Beyond those four, each of Zack Weiss and Jesus Reyes have made their big league debuts with the Reds this year, and each still holds a 40-man roster spot. However, given how crowded the team’s pitching options look to be, I’d be less inclined to expect to see them - with a similar story for Jose Lopez, though he’s not yet had his big league debut.
The wild card on the pitching end would surely seem to be Brandon Finnegan, who has pitched rather horrendously as both a starter and as a reliever since being optioned back to AAA after his early season struggles with the Reds. It would surely make for an odd situation to see a player with as much big league experience as Finnegan not receive an invite back up, but given how poorly he has pitched this year it’s certainly a legitimate consideration to not.
Beyond those pitching options, there are a pair of position prospects on the 40-man roster who figure to be prominent names in coming years, but who likely won’t have their service clocks started in the next month. Both Jose Siri and Shed Long rank among the more interesting and highly touted prospects in the Reds system, but since both are still at AA Pensacola - and since the Blue Wahoos are destined for the Southern League playoffs this September - I’d be shocked if either was anywhere other than in the middle of the order in Pensacola for the remainder of their 2018 seasons.
(While there’s always an outside chance that you see the club make a roster move to bring up a player not already on the 40-man roster, I doubt we’ll see that in Cincinnati’s future this year. Jimmy Herget is the most likely player to be in that situation, as he’ll need to be added to the 40-man this winter to protect him from Rule 5 Draft exposure, but I’d wager we’ll see the Reds wait to do that until after the season.)