All-Star OF Jesse Winker could return to Reds on Friday

Reds All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. He’s played there each of the past two nights and will start for the Bats again Thursday evening but could return to the big league club as soon as Friday, manager David Bell told reporters, including C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic. Cincinnati begins a difficult three-game set with the Dodgers this weekend.

Winker has been one of the game’s best hitters this season, following up on a fantastic shortened 2020 campaign with the best numbers of his career. Across 481 plate appearances, Winker owns a .307/.395/.560 line with 24 home runs. Even after accounting for Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly home ballpark, that offensive output checks in 52 percentage points above the league average by measure of wRC+. That mark trails only Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bryce Harper, Fernando Tatís Jr. and Juan Soto among players with more than 400 trips to the plate. 

Reinstalling that kind of impact bat into the order would be huge for a Reds team that enters play Thursday one-and-a-half games back of the division-rival Cardinals for the National League’s final playoff spot (with the Padres also half a game up on them in the standings).

Some other injury situations for contending clubs around the league:

  • The Astros placed Michael Brantley on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to September 12, Wednesday night because of right knee soreness. The club didn’t provide any sort of timetable for his return, but there’s no indication it’s anything more than a precautionary absence. Houston holds a commanding seven-game lead in the AL West thanks to recent scuffles by the A’s and Mariners, so there’s no reason to push one of their top performers before the start of the postseason. The ever-consistent Brantley is having another very good year, hitting .315/.367/.441 in 493 plate appearances.
  • Rays right-hander Chris Archer may not make it back to the field in 2021, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 32-year-old, who returned to Tampa Bay on a one-year deal worth $6.5M this offseason, has been slowed by hip troubles in recent weeks and is seeking outside opinions on the matter before determining a course of treatment. Once the Rays’ top starter, Archer came back to Tropicana Field in hopes of revitalizing his career following a 2020 thoracic outlet surgery. He’s been limited to just 19 2/3 innings, however, due to a forearm injury early in the season and the recent hip troubles that have surfaced.
  • The Phillies placed reliever Connor Brogdon on the 10-day injured list due to a right groin strain Wednesday. He “probably” won’t return this season, writes Matt Gelb of The Athletic. Brogdon has been one of the more reliable arms in a shaky Philly bullpen, tossing 55 frames of 3.60 ERA ball. The right-hander hasn’t missed bats at the huge level he flashed in a small sample last season, but he’s thrown strikes and induced grounders at a slightly above-average rate. Brogdon has worked mostly in medium-leverage situations this season, but his loss further thins a relief corps that leads baseball with 32 blown saves. Those bullpen woes are perhaps the biggest reason the Phils enter play Thursday three-and-a-half games behind the Braves in the NL East and three games back in the wild-card hunt.

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