Good news for the Reds: Joey Votto has a quadriceps injury, not a knee injury

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UPDATE: Reds fans can exhale now. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that an MRI exam showed merely a strained left quadriceps for Votto and for now at least he’s avoided the disabled list. That could sideline him for a while, but it’s obviously much better than the assumed bad news from this morning regarding his left knee.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his left knee and is likely to be placed on the disabled list.

That’s the same knee Votto had surgery on in 2012, costing him two months of action, and according to Rosenthal the former MVP is not traveling with the Reds on their current road trip.

Votto was off to a relatively slow start, hitting .257 with six homers in 39 games, but he leads the league with 33 walks and has posted a .410 on-base percentage and .859 OPS.

Votto would join Mat Latos, Tony Cingrani, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco on the Reds’ disabled list and Cincinnati just got closer Aroldis Chapman back after he missed the first six weeks with facial fractures. All of which helps explain why the Reds are 18-21 after back-to-back 90-win seasons.

Neftali Soto could get an extended opportunity filling in for Votto at first base, but the 25-year-old former third-round draft pick has an underwhelming track record in the minors that includes a modest .410 slugging percentage in 244 games at Triple-A. A shocking number of Reds fans like to complain about Votto’s lack of power and RBIs, but he’s what makes that lineup click and replacing his incredible on-base skills is impossible.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.