The visiting Milwaukee Brewers, fresh from snapping a season-high three-game losing skid, battle the Cincinnati Reds in the rubber game of the three-game series in a Wednesday matinee.
Milwaukee has captured four of the first five meetings this season. Cincinnati, which went 0-7-1 in its first eight series of the season, is looking for its second straight series victory.
The Brewers send right-hander Adrian Houser (3-2, 3.42 ERA) to the mound; he is looking to build on a personal three-game winning streak. Houser, who will make his sixth start of the season and second straight against the Reds, earned the win last Thursday in a 10-5 decision in Milwaukee.
Houser was charged with five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits over five innings and 92 pitches. After losing his first two starts despite a 2.89 ERA, the 29-year-old has won his last three, posting a 3.71 ERA.
In 12 career appearances (nine starts) against Cincinnati, Houser is 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA, including 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA in four starts last season. In Cincinnati, Houser is 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA in six career starts.
The Reds will counter with a pitcher trying to avoid making some dubious franchise history. Right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez (0-5, 8.86) has lost all five starts to open 2022, matching Joey Jay (1963) and Frank Dwyer (1899) as the only Cincinnati pitchers to lose five starts to open a season.
While Gutierrez has thrown at least four innings in all five starts, his results have been progressively worse. Since allowing two runs in his first start, on April 9 in Atlanta, Gutierrez has allowed three, three, six and seven.
The Brewers tagged Gutierrez for seven earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in 4 1/3 innings. Gutierrez is 2-1 with a 4.63 ERA in four starts against Milwaukee, striking out 15 but walking nine in 23 1/3 innings.
The Reds' pitching staff has been reinforced with the return of ace Luis Castillo and the effective outing of Hunter Greene on Tuesday against the Brewers. More help could be on the way by the end of the month.
Veteran lefty Mike Minor was sent on a rehab assignment on Tuesday -- the first of two scheduled starts at Triple-A Louisville. There is no target date yet for his Reds debut, but that could change if things go well in his second scheduled rehab start Sunday.
"We could definitely add to that, but those two are scheduled," Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell said.
Minor threw live batting practice to hitters last week at Single-A Dayton. On April 13, Minor had to abandon a rehab start with Double-A Chattanooga when his shoulder soreness returned.
The Brewers also added pitching reinforcements, recalling right-hander J.C. Mejia from Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday to bolster their bullpen. To make room, the club optioned right-hander Jandel Gustave to Nashville.
Mejia, acquired for a minor-leaguer in a trade with Cleveland last November, has 17 major-league appearances and 11 starts on his resume. He couldn't make the big-league roster out of spring training in Arizona.
"I think with how spring training worked, it hurt a guy like him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Just had to prioritize certain things in spring training, and I think some of the things he wanted to accomplish got pushed to the back burner as far as how much we could get him out there and things like that."
--Field Level Media