The future starts now as Jose Barrero and the Reds visit Milwaukee to face the Brewers

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Jose Barrero / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages
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Even though some familiar faces are playing elsewhere, the Cincinnati Reds (42-62) have been impressive to open the second half of the 2022 campaign. After taking two of three from the Miami Marlins, the Redlegs are 8-5 since the Midsummer Classic and are just a half-game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for third place in the National League Central.

Quality starting pitching has been the key to Cincinnati's success post-All-Star break. Granted, the recently departed Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle were instrumental in those exceptional starts, but the staff as a whole has been equally impressive.

Over their last 13 contests, the Reds' starting rotation is an astounding 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA and 80 K's in 77.2 innings. Additionally, Cincinnati has received quality starts from five of the six starters to toe the rubber following the All-Star break.

Can the Reds keep the wins coming as they visit the Brewers?

The Cincinnati Reds will need all that and more as they enter American Family Field to battle a reeling Milwaukee Brewers (57-48) ball club. Remarkably, the Beer Makers are returning home after being swept in a three-game set in Pittsburgh and have dropped four in a row overall.

However, the Reds weren't the only team busy at the trade deadline as the Brewers sent shock waves through the land of barley and bratwurst by sending four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader to, who else, the San Diego Padres. But Milwaukee fans shouldn't shed too many tears because the bullpen remains a strength even without Hader at the back end.

Right-hander Devin Williams has compiled a microscopic 1.77 ERA with a bewildering 66 punchouts in just 40.2 frames. In addition, they acquired southpaw Taylor Rogers from San Diego in the Hader deal, who recorded an eye-popping 28 saves for the Friars.

This will be Cincinnati's second of three trips to the Cream City this season. Milwaukee obliterated Reds' pitching during their first visit in May, sweeping the three-game set and outscoring the Redlegs by an embarrassing 34-12 margin.

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Brewers

Cincinnati Reds starter Robert Dugger vs. Milwaukee Brewers starter Eric Lauer

Robert Dugger (0-0 4.50 ERA) will make his third appearance as a member of the Cincinnati Reds this evening opposing Eric Lauer (7-3 3.75 ERA) for the Milwaukee Brewers. Reds Country can only hope this outing resembles the results Dugger achieved when he was last with the big league club.

Tossing 3.2 innings of shutout baseball out of the bullpen, the right-hander was magnificent in a July 7th win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Selected off waivers on May 4th from the Tampa Bay Rays, Dugger is seeking his first MLB victory in what will be his 27th major league appearance.

Don't be surprised to see the Reds play a little long ball versus Eric Lauer tonight. The Milwaukee southpaw has allowed 20 round-trippers in 105.2 frames this season. In a June 17th start at Great American Ball Park, he was taken deep three times in an eventual 5-4 Brewers victory.

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. Milwaukee Brewers starter Aaron Ashby

Rookie Nick Lodolo (3-3 4.23 ERA) toes the rubber Saturday night as Aaron Ashby (2-9 4.13 ERA) receives the nod for Craig Counsell's club. It's ok to be excited Reds Country because Lodolo has been sensational in his last two starts.

Allowing one earned run in a dozen innings, the southpaw has whiffed 16 while only yielding nine hits. Over his last 34.1 frames, Lodolo has fanned a whopping 50 and surrendered just three homers. That will do, Nick. That will do.

Believe it or not, Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell should be cautious about loading his lineup card with right-handed bats against southpaw Aaron Ashby. Lefties are slashing .269/.364/.418 versus the 24-year-old Missouri native with two home runs in 67 at-bats.

Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene vs. Milwaukee Brewers starter Corbin Burnes

Sunday's matinee series finale will feature Hunter Greene (4-12 5.26 ERA) battling 2021 Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes (8-5 2.49 ERA) for the Beer Makers. As good as Nick Lodolo has been in his last couple of appearances, Greene has been equally as impressive.

Hurling 12.1 frames, the flame-throwing right-hander has allowed two runs while recording 14 punch outs against only one free pass. Just as encouraging for the rookie: Greene has logged at least six innings in three of his last four starts.

Let's state the obvious, the Reds face a major challenge in Corbin Burnes. The right-hander has fanned at least 10 in three of his last five outings. However, this is reason for hope. Albert Almora, Kyle Farmer, and Mike Moustakas are a combined 7-for-14 versus the Milwaukee ace.

It's time for Reds shortstop Jose Barrero to show what he's made of.

Over the last 10 days, the Cincinnati Reds have turned over nearly 20% of their roster as multiple veterans were dealt before the trade deadline passed on August 2nd. Outfielders Tyler Naquin, Tommy Pham, starting pitchers Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, and infielder Brandon Drury were sent packing.

Needless to say, the future is now for some of the Reds' younger players. It's not hyperbole to say the next two months are the most important of shortstop Jose Barrero's young career. After the flurry of acquisitions over the last week, the 24-year-old Cuban is no longer the club's only possible long-term solution at shortstop.

Four of Cincinnati's top six ranked prospects play shortstop. Two of those players, Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, were acquired over the weekend from the Seattle Mariners in the Luis Castillo trade. In addition, Marte and 2021 first-round selection Matt McLain are projected to make their MLB debut next summer.

Obviously, it's a small sample size. In 120 big league at-bats, Barrero is slashing an anemic .192/.236/.242 with five extra-base hits. However, you can't blame him for looking over his shoulder, and with good reason. If Jose Barrero doesn't finish strong in 2022, his long-term prospects of being an impact player for the Reds will have suffered a tremendous blow.

Prediction: Brewers take out their frustrations on the Reds.

This is probably not the best time to catch the Milwaukee Brewers if you're the Cincinnati Reds. On the heels of a three-game sweep courtesy of a poor Pirates club, you can bet the Brew Crew is looking to take out some frustration.

Unfortunately, our Redlegs will be on the receiving end of that beat down as the Brewers take two of three before the Reds travel to the Big Apple to battle the first place New York Mets.

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