The 27-year-old got hot at the right time and saved his job. It looked like he was beginning to put it all together when he raised his batting average nearly 30 points by early August. Instead, he is back to swinging and missing way too frequently.
In his past seven games, he has struck out an incredible 21 times in 38 at-bats. He has four games with at least three strikeouts during this stretch.
Stubbs also was one of the leaders in runs scored on the club, but he has only scored four times in the past 15 games. The team is 45-6 when he scores, which shows how valuable he is to Cincinnati. The Reds are a good team either way, but they are nearly unbeatable when Stubbs does well.
Cincinnati heads to Houston this weekend for a three-game series. It will be important for the Reds to do well considering they have twice as many wins (80) as Houston's 40. These two teams play six times in ten days.
As a native of Texas, the pressure will be on Stubbs to finally put it together against the Astros.
On Saturday, the rosters will be expanded to 40 players. It is still unclear who will be called up to Cincinnati, but Stubbs could find himself on the bench if he does not produce this series.
While no minor leaguer will take the center fielder's job, the roster will be bolstered by the return of a key player.
Joey Votto will return this weekend, so it puts the Reds in a difficult (but good) spot. The All-Star first baseman will force Todd Frazier out of the lineup. Frazier, a leading candidate for National League Rookie of the Year, needs to stay in the lineup somehow.
With third baseman Scott Rolen hitting well, Frazier is searching for a way to get on the field. Rolen is a better defensive player, but the rookie has hit over .300 and has driven in over 30 runs since the All-Star break.
Ryan Ludwick is also hitting well in left field, so there does not appear to be room for Frazier in the lineup. Chris Heisey is also hitting .282 in limited action this season, and he hit two home runs on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
However, manager Dusty Baker could decide to move right fielder Jay Bruce to center field to make room for Frazier in the outfield. The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay has expressed his opinion on Twitter about the situation.
While it probably will not happen, it is a scenario that would improve the team's offense. It would weaken the defense because Stubbs is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball.
The team has several options to replace Stubbs if he continues to slump.
The opponents in the next series should help the slumping outfielder.
In two of the past three seasons, Stubbs has hit .295 or better against Houston pitching. It was just over a month ago where he saved his job by exploding against the Astros.
A late July series in Houston got him hitting well. He went 7-for-15 and scored five runs in the series. The center fielder also had two game winning hits in the ninth inning of back-to-back games against former teammate Francisco Cordero.
Stubbs has not seen Houston's pitchers much, but he will be ready to have a big series. He is hitless in his only matchup with Fernando Abad and 2-for-7 against Lucas Harrell.
While he can be frustrating at times, fans need to realize how valuable Stubbs is to the team. The team is 63-39 when he starts, which is pretty staggering.
Many other players have helped the team to an 80-52 record, but Stubbs has contributed this season. He covers more ground in center field than almost any other player in the league, and he has an above-average arm.
When Votto returns, Stubbs could be moved down in the lineup if Brandon Phillips returns to the leadoff spot. The move down the lineup may be exactly what the center fielder needs, but Zack Cozart is also a candidate to be moved down in the order.
The strikeouts need to come to an end for Stubbs to remain in the lineup. The series against the Astros will be crucial for him, so he needs to take advantage of the situation.
Stubbs already got hot once this year against Houston, and it will not be surprising if he goes on a tear this weekend.
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