ST. LOUIS -- With the return of Scott Schebler from the disabled list, the Cincinnati Reds will go back to the four-man outfield rotation they planned on having when the season started.Schebler provides a power bat for an offense that has scored just two runs over the past 28 innings,
ST. LOUIS -- With the return of Scott Schebler from the disabled list, the Cincinnati Reds will go back to the four-man outfield rotation they planned on having when the season started.
Schebler provides a power bat for an offense that has scored just two runs over the past 28 innings, heading into Saturday's game. He joins a group consisting of Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Jesse Winker.
"If it becomes a situation where it's just so clear that there's three, and the fourth guy becomes a weapon off the bench, we would do that," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We had a plan coming out of Spring Training to rotate those four and we'd like to stay with that for as long as possible."
Each of the outfielders has a different skill set. Hamilton is the speedster, Winker has a plus bat and Duvall and Schebler are power hitters. Hamilton and Duvall are also excellent defenders.
"The dilemma is Billy," Riggleman said. "There's nobody like Billy. I know what the numbers say -- and graphs all over baseball, who covers what out there -- but we see it. The plays that he's made are unbelievable, and invariably when he's not out there, a ball gets hit and you're like, 'Aw man, Billy would have had that one.'
"But we've got a really good young hitter in Winker, and we've got Schebler and Duvall, [who each have] hit [at least] 30 homers [in a season], and you can't dismiss what they did, so there's going to be days where Billy's going to be the one who sits."
When Winker plays, expect him in the leadoff role. He has a .422 on-base percentage when batting first, which should give more RBI opportunities for the likes of Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, Schebler and Duvall.
Hamilton could spend more time batting ninth behind the pitcher for the same reason. Riggleman batted Ian Desmond behind the pitcher when he managed in Washington, and the Nationals won 10 out of 11 with that lineup. He likes that lineup configuration depending on matchups.
"The time you would get burned, and I've rarely seen it happen, is you have a hell of a rally in the first inning, and they were able to start pitching around people in the sixth or seventh slot knowing you can get to the pitcher batting eighth," Riggleman said.
Riggleman pointed out that having such a rotation isn't totally out of the blue. He pointed to the Cubs, who won the World Series in 2016 using a similar rotation, trying to find at-bats among five players.
Right-hander David Hernandez (right shoulder inflammation) got off to a rocky start in his rehab assignment Friday night at Triple-A Louisville, giving up four runs in one-third of an inning.
Riggleman is more concerned about making sure Hernandez is healthy, rather than the stat line.
"The key is we have to get him healthy," Riggleman said. "How he feels the next day is very important.
"When I was in Louisville and [Aroldis] Chapman came down there, he may have been hit harder than any pitcher we had all year. Two days in a row he pitched, and I couldn't get him through an inning either day, threw more than 30 pitches both days, and left-handed hitters were smoking balls against him and the radar gun is saying 102. It's bizarre, and his first outing up here he struck out the side. Certainly we give an account for what takes place, but it's not ultimately the determining factor."
Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis.