Joey Votto and the Reds look to take advantage of the stumbling Brewers

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds (23-40) return home feeling better about themselves. After taking two of the three from the Diamondbacks in Arizona, the Redlegs captured their first winning season series over the D-backs since 2014 and completed a 3-3 road trip.

Following the Chicago Cubs' 10th consecutive loss yesterday, Cincinnati and the North Siders find themselves tied for fourth-place in the National League Central. Additionally, the Reds trail the Pittsburgh Pirates by only 2.5 games for third-place.

Before we get too excited and start dreaming about competing for the Wild Card, the Cincinnati Reds still sit 13 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the division. Only the Washington Nationals have a worse record in the senior circuit, but it's progress. Baby steps, Reds Country.

Joey Votto and the Reds welcome the Brewers to GABP.

Speaking of teams looking up at the Redbirds, the Milwaukee Brewers (35-30) are in the midst of a horrific slide as they've dropped eight of their last 10 contests to fall two games behind St. Louis. Additionally, the Brew Crew is just 3-11 to open the month of June.

How fast has the Brewers' slide in the division occurred? Rapidly. As recently as May 30th, Milwaukee had a four-game cushion in the NL Central. However, the reason for the recent change of fortunes is easy to find.

For a team built around quality starting pitching, injuries to two of their rotation stalwarts have sent the Brewers reeling. All-Stars Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff are both currently on the Injured List and it could be quite a while until the Milwaukee rotation returns to full strength.

Peralta was recently transferred to the 60-day IL as he battles a right shoulder strain. Don't look for him to take the mound before the beginning of August at the earliest. The prognosis is much better for Woodruff who will make a minor league rehab start tomorrow night as he recovers from a sprained ankle.

This will be the second of three appearances for the Brewers in the Queen City this season. Cincinnati took two of three at Great American Ball Park last month. However, Milwaukee owns a 4-2 advantage over the Reds to begin the 2022 campaign.

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Brewers

Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene vs. Brewers starting pitcher Eric Lauer

Reigning National League Player of the Week, Hunter Greene (3-7 5.10 ERA), takes the mound tonight battling Eric Lauer (5-2 3.36 ERA) of the Brewers. How good was the Reds rookie last week? As Larry David would say, "pretty, pretty, pretty good."

Tossing a dozen innings, Greene allowed just one run on only three hits while fanning 15 opposing hitters. The 22-year-old right-hander has yielded two runs or less in five of his last seven starts. In addition, he's racked up 79 K's in 60 frames. It's ok to be excited, Reds Country.

Don't necessarily look for David Bell to load up on right-handed hitters against Milwaukee southpaw Eric Lauer. The left-hander has limited righties to a paltry .223/.281/.411 slash line. Interestingly, left-handed hitters are slashing .257/.366/.486 versus the Kent State alum.

Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft vs. Brewers starting pitcher Jason Alexander

Graham Ashcraft (3-0 2.22 ERA) looks to rebound from his first poor outing as Jason Alexander (0-0 2.16 ERA), no, not that one, starts for Craig Counsell's club Saturday afternoon. It had to happen sooner or later, but Ashcraft finally proved he was human against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cincinnati's other sensational rookie right-hander was rocked for four runs and nine hits in just 4.2 innings Sunday at Busch Stadium. It was Ashcraft's first appearance in which he's allowed more than two runs and four hits. That's how good the 24-year-old Alabama native has been to start his MLB career.

I'm not sure if he has an endorsement deal with Vandalay Industries, but Jason Alexander has a solid start to his 2022 season. The 29-year-old right-hander has only allowed four earned runs in 16.2 innings. However, he's walked eight while compiling just six strikeouts. Look for the bubble to burst for Alexander.

Reds starting pitcher Mike Minor vs. Brewers starting pitcher Adrian Houser

A Father's Day matinee will feature Mike Minor (1-2 7.36 ERA) toeing the rubber as Adrian Houser (3-7 4.21 ERA) get the assignment for Milwaukee. Minor's last start was better Tossing 6.1 frames of four-run eight-hit baseball, the southpaw picked up his first victory in a Reds uniform against Arizona.

However, in 14.2 innings of work, the left-hander was been taken deep a whopping six times. Expect to see plenty of right-handed bats in the Brewers lineup on Sunday. Righties are slashing .290/.349/.658 with an incredible 1.007 OPS versus Minor in his three starts.

Speaking of round-trippers, Adrian Houser is very stingy in giving up the long ball. The right-hander has surrendered just six homers in 62 frames this season and in his last five outings versus the Reds, he's been taken deep just once in 22.2 innings.

It may not be MVP-caliber Joey Votto, but the last two weeks have at least brought to mind the 2021 version of the Reds' legendary first baseman. Over the last 14 days, the 38-year-old is slashing .280/.400/.540 with three homers, four doubles, and 12 RBIs. He also has as many walks (9) as strikeouts.

As Joey Votto goes, so go the Cincinnati Reds. Social media breakout star is slashing an astounding .279/.475/.674 with an otherworldly 1.149 OPS in Cincinnati victories as opposed to an anemic .180/.284/.265 in Reds' defeats.

Clutch Votto has been the best Votto. With runners in scoring position, the six-time All-Star is slashing a ridiculous .355/.583/.807 with three homers and an eye-popping 1.390 OPS. However, this is not new territory for Joey Votto.

Throughout his career, the former MVP has thrived under pressure. Lifetime the Toronto native has produced an amazing .326/.475/.574 slash line with 84 round-trippers and a spectacular 1.049 OPS with runners in scoring position. You can try to bury Joey Votto, but dismiss him at your peril.

Prediction: Reds vs. Brewers

This is not the same dangerous Milwaukee club we're used to seeing roll into GABP and dismantle the Cincinnati Reds over the last several years. As a result, look for the Reds to take two of three from the Beer Makers and escape the basement of the NL Central.

However, there will be little time for the Reds to catch their breath as the juggernaut known as the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the Queen City beginning Tuesday night.

Next. 3 former Reds players who are failing miserably in 2022. dark