Cincinnati Reds Roster Breakdown

Just when the Reds needed a transfusion to keep in step with the fast-disappearing Cardinals in the NL Central, the club did nothing over the All-Star break other than activate 1B Sean Casey off the DL.

Only after losing the first two games of the second half to the Cardinals did the Reds do anything, and it was mere tinkering. LHP Jesus Sanchez was replaced in the rotation with LHP Brandon Claussen, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

PITCHING TRENDS: RHP Jose Acevedo has won only one game in his last nine starts and gave up six runs and seven hits in only 2 1/3 innings in his last start against the Cardinals. His spot in the rotation could be at risk.

PITCHERS TO WATCH:
--LHP Brandon Claussen, obtained last July from the Yankees for 3B Aaron Boone, finally was recalled from Triple-A Louisville this week and put into the rotation. He was expected to make the rotation in spring training but faltered, then started slowly at Louisville before going 5-2 over an eight-start span.

--RHP Danny Graves continues to record saves but also blows them at an alarming rate. He gave up a three-run pinch-hit home run to Marlon Anderson of the Cardinals over the weekend for his eighth blown save against 34 saves.

--RHP Todd Jones, a former closer now pitching setup, has a career-best eight wins and leads the National League with 21 holds, but he also has blown five save opportunities.

LINEUP LOWDOWN: Because of injuries to CF Ken Griffey Jr. (right hamstring) and RF Austin Kearns (right thumb), manager Dave Miley is mixing up his outfield, trying to take advantage of matchups as best he can. He is using Ryan Freel, Wily Mo Pena, Jacob Cruz, John Vander Wal and Jason Romano in different outfield slots, including left field when he moves Adam Dunn to first base.

POSITION PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--1B/OF John Vander Wal, activated off the DL just prior to the All-Star break, is primarily a pinch-hitter, but with the OF decimated by injuries Vander Wal will play a lot of RF and 1B.

--INF/OF Ryan Freel, another swing man playing every day because of team injuries, missed four games of his own before the All-Star game with a sore knee but is back in the lineup and has hit safely in 22 of his last 25 games.

--LF Adam Dunn is on a hot stretch during which he has hit .276 and 14 home runs in a month and a half. That gave him 26 home runs, second in the majors behind Philadelphia's Jim Thome.

MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Josh Hall (right shoulder surgery, expected back July 1), RHP D.J. Mattox (elbow surgery, out for the season), Austin Kearns (right thumb surgery, expected back August 15), RHP Mike Matthews (left elbow surgery, expected back September 1), CF Ken Griffey Jr. (partially torn right hamstring, expected back August 1).

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