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Reds place Sonny Gray on IL with rib cage strain

The Reds announced Thursday that they placed right-hander Sonny Gray back on the 10-day injured list due to a rib cage strain. It’s the third IL stint of the season for Gray, who very recently returned from a four-week absence due to a groin strain. Right-hander Tony Santillan is up from Triple-A Louisville in his place.

Cincinnati hasn’t provided a timetable for Gray’s return, though it’s possible that with the All-Star break looming, the impact of his absence could be minimal. Gray started Wednesday’s game (and pitched quite well), so he wouldn’t have been in line to make another start prior to the break anyhow. He’ll be eligible to return for the Reds’ third game after the break, so it’s technically possible that he won’t even miss a start.

If the injury does prove to sideline Gray for a few outings, however, it’ll be a particularly ill-timed IL trip. The Reds, winners in 10 of their past 15 games, will come out of the break to host a pivotal three-game series against the division-leading Brewers. They’ll then take on a first-place Mets club before playing a string of seven straight divisional games (four against the Cubs, three against the Cardinals) in the days leading up to the July 30 trade deadline. Getting multiple starts from Gray, who has a 3.19 ERA in 62 frames this year, would obviously be ideal.

The Reds’ recent hot streak has propelled them back to second place in the NL Central. They’re six back of the Brewers at the moment, making these next seven games in particular quite important to their season. General manager Nick Krall recently characterized his club as deadline buyers, although one would imagine that is at least somewhat dependent on how the team performs in the looming seven-game stretch against the current division leaders.

For now, Santillan will give the Reds’ staff some depth. All four of his outings with the big league club this season have been starts, but he’ll give manager David Bell a multi-inning option out of the ’pen for now, it seems. In 16 2/3 innings of big league work so far, Santillan has allowed seven earned runs (3.78 ERA) on 18 hits and 10 walks with 20 punchouts.

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