5 Predictions for the Cincinnati Reds Following Ryan Ludwick's Injury
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Ryan Ludwick suffered a dislocated right shoulder, following a head first slide into third base during Monday's season opener against the Los Angeles Angels (per usatoday.com).
According to the Washington Post, Ludwick will undergo surgery Wednesday to fix the torn cartilage in his shoulder.
Though no timeline has been given on when Ludwick might return, it's safe to assume Ludwick will not be returning anytime soon.
The injury could prove costly to the Reds who will need to come up with short-term solutions to plug new holes in their outfield, lineup and bench.
With that out of the way, here's five predictions for what the Reds will do to round out the roster following Ludwick's injury.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Chris Heisey Becomes the Everyday Starter in Left Field
The Cincinnati Reds will need an immediate replacement for Ludwick as he moves to the DL.
Chris Heisey was called upon to finish out the game Monday and it's safe to assume that he will be Ludwick's replacement over the next three months.
Heisey went 0-3 with two strikeouts in Monday's game, but he can hit.
Over four seasons (including the three at-bats this season) Heisey has managed a .258/.314/.456 slash line with 162 game averages of 16 HR, 49 RBI and 58 runs scored.
With increased, consistent playing time, Heisey should be able to prove his worth prior to Ludwick's return.
He may give up some playing time to Xavier Paul who has the added advantage of batting left-handed; however, Heisey will be the team's starting left fielder, at least until Ludwick returns.
Providing it is just a mild tear of cartilage, Ludwick will likely miss the first half of the regular season.
If Ludwick suffered a torn labrum then the Reds could find themselves without his services for the entire season.
If this is in fact the case, Heisey will likely start around 80 games between the now and the time Ludwick returns.
Here are my predictions for Heisey during Ludwick's absence. 539
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Denis Phipps Gets a Call Up to the Show
His name might not be familiar to casual fans, but Denis Phipps was one of the hottest names at the Reds spring training camp.
Phipps played in 24 games this spring and enjoyed a .277/.320/.553 slash line over 47 at-bats (per Cincinnatireds.com).
Phipps also contributed two HR, four RBI and seven runs scored and was one of the final outfielders cut from the big league roster when the Reds broke camp.
Phipps was one of a handful of players called up last season when rosters expanded in September, giving him a leg up on other players vying for the empty roster spot.
When called up, Phipps responded well slashing .320/.364/.600 with one HR, a double, two RBI and four runs scored.
Given the fact that the Reds are replacing a right-handed hitter in Ludwick, Phipps looks to be the best option to replace him at this juncture.
Shin-Soo Choo Moves to Left Field
Shin-Soo Choo isn't your ideal center fielder. He was however one of the best leadoff hitters available when the Reds went shopping for one this offseason.
The Reds were prompted to move Choo to center field specifically because of his offensive abilities and the need for him atop the team's lineup.
Choo's defensive ability as a center fielder has been questioned continuously since the position change and the injury to Ryan Ludwick could quell the speculation.
With Heisey in line to start every day, he could take over starting duties in center field, allowing Choo to slide over to left field.
Heisey has played 112 games in center and the position actually provides for his best defensive metrics (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Choo has played in a handful of games at left field—58 to be exact—and the adjustment to left field would be far less steep than the one he's currently undergoing as a center fielder (per Baseball-Reference.com).
The move may not happen right away, but Choo would be better suited for left field and the Reds will ultimately play him there.
Brandon Phillips Hits 4th
The re-signing of Ludwick and trade for Choo provided the Reds with an opportunity for an incredibly stable lineup.
Aside from regular off days, the opening day lineup would have been the one Dusty Baker turned in on a regular basis.
Lineup stability is a huge factor in team success and the Reds will now have to work around that with Ludwick out indefinitely.
Phillips has been very successful during his time spent in the fourth spot of the lineup.
In 470 games there, Phillips has amassed 1854 at-bats with a .282/.331/.454 slash line, 69 HR, 298 RBI and 266 runs scored (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Phillips is a threat in any lineup and will provide enough protection for both Votto and Bruce to get them good pitches to hit.
... and Zack Cozart Hits 2nd
With Phillips moving down to hit fourth, the second spot in the order remains open and the player most likely to fill it is Zack Cozart.
Cozart was outstanding in his time spent batting second last season.
In 102 at bats, Cozart slashed .324/.378/.490 with two HR, five doubles, three triples, five RBI and 17 runs scored (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Cozart has the ability to hit to all fields which makes him a prototypical two-hitter.
Additionally, Cozart will benefit greatly from batting between Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto.
The excellent protection he'd receive from these two would, in turn, net him better pitches to hit, resulting in a high average and on-base percentage.