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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Cincinnati Reds

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The Brewers wrap up June with a four-game set against the deceptively red-hot Reds

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds may stll be in last place in the NL Central, but they’re far from being a doormat, at least of late.

Cincy has won 12 of their past 15 games, including a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs and taking 2 of 3 from the NL East-leading Braves. The offense has been the key for them in this stretch, scoring 5 or more runs in each of those wins.

Our old friend Scooter Gennett might be playing his way onto an All-Star team with a .336/.375/.534 line while hitting 13 home runs and 19 doubles so far this year. If he isn’t the Reds’ All-Star representative, Eugenio Suarez probably deserves to be -- he’s hitting .301/.388/.568 with 16 home runs. Joey Votto took awhile to get going this year, but now has his line up to your typical Votto line of .301/.434/.459.

With Travis Shaw still questionable on a day-to-day basis and with Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list, the Brewers are going to need to find ways to score this weekend in Cincinnati or risk having a disappointing series to close out the month of June. The Brewers enter this four-game set with a record of 10-12 this month, meaning they’ll have to win the first three games of the series to avoid their first losing month of the season.

Probable Pitchers

Thursday - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Junior Guerra vs. Anthony DeSclafani

Friday - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Chase Anderson vs. Sal Romano

Saturday - 3:10 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Tyler Mahle

Sunday - 12:10 p.m. CDT
Freddy Peralta vs. Matt Harvey

Injuries have kept DeSclafani from the mound for much of the year, and he’ll be making just his 5th start of the season against the Brewers tonight. He’s thrown a total of 22 innings in his first four starts, striking out 18 but walking 8 and giving up 10 earned runs. He’s been good enough to be credited with a win in 3 of those starts, though, and is coming off a game in which he hit a grand slam against the Cubs.

Romano has struggled this year, carrying a 5.40 ERA in his first 16 starts. That’s actually better than he’s fared against the Brewers in his career, who have hit him to the tune of a .297/.391/.581 (.972 OPS) line and a 6.27 ERA in four starts before this series. He did see better results in his most recent start against the Brewers, holding them to 2 runs over 5 innings in April. Unfortunately for him, that game was a 2-0 loss for the Reds.

Mahle has been a solid if fortunate starter for the Reds this year, given his occasional struggles with command. He’s walked 36 batters in 86 innings, which works out to a 3.8 BB/9 rate. He comes into this series with a 3.98 ERA but has a FIP about a run higher than that and is coming off back-to-back starts of 4 walks.

With the way Harvey’s run with the Reds has been talked about by some, you’d think he’s been working his way back into his old form. That’s mostly because he had nowhere to go but up after allowing 21 runs to score in his first 27 innings with the Mets this year. Since being traded to Cincinnati, he has been better, but still pretty thoroughly mediocre. His ERA with the Reds is at 4.31 (not far off from his 4.58 FIP), and he’s still not fooling anyone -- he’s only struck out 34 in 48 innings and has allowed 7 home runs -- but he’s at least reduced some of the harm he was doing to himself by limiting the number of walks he’s giving out. The Brewers knocked Harvey around for 8 hits (including 2 home runs) and 4 runs over 5 innings the last time they saw him as a Met in mid-April. He only made one more start for them after that and was traded a couple weeks later.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference