The Reds announced Friday that right fielder Nick Castellanos has been placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 20. Castellanos revealed earlier this week that a CT scan found a microfracture in his right wrist. Cincinnati also placed lefty Amir Garrett on the paternity list. Right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez and infielder Alejo Lopez were recalled from Triple-A in a pair of corresponding moves. Meanwhile, right-hander Jose De Leon, who was designated for assignment earlier in the week, was released.
There’s never a good time for an injury to a team’s best hitter, but Castellanos’ absence will come at a particularly critical time for the Reds, who have seven straight games against divisional opponents leading up to next Friday’s trade deadline. The Reds have lost five of their first six games coming out of the All-Star break, including a sweep at the hands of the first-place Brewers. They’re currently six and a half games back of both the division lead and the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
Suffice it to say, a strong run for the Reds over the next week could embolden the front office to act as buyers in an effort to push for a postseason berth. A particularly poor showing could have the opposite effect. The Reds will now have to make this pivotal push without their most dangerous hitter; Castellanos, who leads the NL in batting average and doubles, is batting .329/.383/.582 through 368 plate appearances.
Cincinnati is also without slugger Mike Moustakas, infielder/outfielder Nick Senzel and three of its best relievers: Tejay Antone, Lucas Sims and Michael Lorenzen. The fact that Garrett is being placed on paternity leave for the next three games against the Cardinals only further thins out the bullpen. The Reds are fortunate that neither the Cubs nor the Cardinals have been playing particularly well in their own right, however, so there’s still a chance for them to make up some ground and the final pre-deadline run.
As for De Leon, the 28-year-old former top prospect will now be free to sign with any club. The former Dodgers and Rays farmhand saw his development slowed by injuries, most notably Tommy John surgery, and has yet to develop into the high-quality MLB arm that scouts envisioned in his younger days.
The Reds acquired De Leon from Tampa Bay in exchange for cash last year. Since the swap, he’s whiffed 43 of the 126 batters he’s faced in the Majors (34.1 percent), but he’s also been clobbered for 29 runs. Control has been a problem, as evidenced by a 17.6 percent walk rate and a pair of hit batters in that time.