On Thursday morning Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell said that the plan was for Jesse Winker to play tonight in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats and then, if things went well, return to Cincinnati for the weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. At 6pm on Thursday night the Louisville Bats posted their lineup and Jesse Winker was not in it. That meant two things: Jesse Winker had some kind of set back or Jesse Winker was coming back to Cincinnati because it didn’t make sense to risk anything. Jim Kelch, who is filling in for Louisville on the road this week as their broadcaster, had the good news, noting that Winker is heading back to Cincinnati and said “it’s time”.
Jesse Winker played in two games on his rehab assignment in Triple-A. Both games took place in Memphis, where the Louisville Bats are playing this week against the St. Louis Cardinals affiliate. Winker went 0-2 with a strikeout in the first game and then he went 0-3 with a strikeout in the second game.
The stats don’t really matter. Jesse Winker made it through all five at-bats without any issues with his intercostal strain that has kept him out for the last month.
The Reds have lost seven consecutive series and have fallen in the standings. They are no longer in control of the second spot in the wild card standings and are chasing both the Cardinals and San Diego Padres while also trying to fend off both the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. A large part of their struggles of late has been an inconsistent offense, though much of that has come as the team has faced an inordinate amount of left-handed starters in that stretch – something that Jesse Winker may not have been able to help much with.
Still, Winker has hit .307/.395/.560 this season and getting his bat back into the lineup with regularity would seem to be very beneficial as long as he can return and be anything remotely close to the hitter that he has been this year. Cincinnati only has 15 more games to go in the regular season and every single one of them is more important than the one that came before it.