The Milwaukee Brewers are running out of time to make a run at a National League wild-card spot.
Even more alarmingly, they are running out of starting pitchers.
The Brewers will look to bounce back from a lopsided series-opening defeat when they host the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night in the middle contest of a three-game set between the NL Central teams.
Adrian Houser (5-9, 4.83 ERA) is slated to take the mound for the Brewers against former Milwaukee pitcher Chase Anderson (0-2, 12.60) in a battle of right-handers.
The Reds rolled to an 8-2 victory Friday night, when TJ Friedl hit a leadoff homer to spark a five-run first inning and rookie left-hander Nick Lodolo struck out 11 over eight innings.
The loss dropped the Brewers 3 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the race for the third and final NL wild-card spot. The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Friday.
Milwaukee (73-66) remained eight games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The Brewers spent 95 days with at least a share of first place earlier this season but have gone 15-18 since last holding a share of the top spot following the games of Aug. 5. The Cardinals have gone 23-10 in the same span.
“If the numbers say there’s time, then there’s time,” Brewers outfielder Andrew McCutchen told reporters Friday night. “Anything can happen. I’ve seen stranger things happen in September.”
It is becoming increasingly clear any late-season charge by the Brewers will need to be mounted with a piecemeal starting rotation. Freddy Peralta became the third starter to hit the shelf Friday when he was placed on the 15-day injured list due to right-shoulder inflammation.
Peralta, who missed two-plus months earlier this season with a strained right shoulder, joins left-handers Eric Lauer (left elbow) and Aaron Ashby (shoulder) on the injured list. The healthy starters from Milwaukee’s optimal rotation are Houser, Brandon Woodruff and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes.
The Reds (56-80) played spoiler Friday by getting a career-best effort from Lodolo, who set career highs in strikeouts and innings pitched.
Manager David Bell said he was going to let Lodolo pursue the rare complete game before a lengthy top of the ninth in which Cincinnati scored three runs.
The win Friday was the third straight for the Reds, who started 4-23 but are 52-57 since May 8.
“It was fun,” Bell said afterward. “Guys were into it. Our team, it’s a fun group to be around. They grind it out, but they enjoy each other.”
Houser earned the win in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up three runs (one earned) over five innings as the Brewers beat the Colorado Rockies 6-4.
Anderson didn’t factor into the decision on Sept. 3, when he walked four over 2 2/3 hitless innings in the Reds’ 10-0 win over the Rockies. It was the longest big league outing this year for Anderson, who pitched at Triple-A for the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers before signing as a free agent with Cincinnati on Aug. 27.
Houser is 3-4 with a 5.79 ERA in 14 career games (11 starts) against the Reds. Anderson, who pitched for the Brewers from 2016 through 2019, is 0-1 with a 6.46 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee.
–Field Level Media