Reds OF TJ Friedl takes his hot bat to the Cream City to battle the slumping Brewers

Cincinnati Reds outfielder TJ Friedl.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder TJ Friedl. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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September is off to a positive start for the Ole Redlegs. Following yesterday's series-clinching victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Cincinnati Reds (55-80) are 4-2 to open the 2022 season's final full month.

Despite the dismantling of the ball club at the trade deadline that saw veterans Brandon Drury, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Tyler Naquin, and Tommy Pham exit the Queen City, Cincinnati has played surprisingly well in spite of the departures and injuries to such players as Hunter Greene, Mike Moustakas, Tyler Stephenson, and Joey Votto.

The core of a healthy Jonathan India, Kyle Farmer, Jake Fraley, and TJ Friedl have posted a 21-23 record since the All-Star break. Of course, some of the credit must be given to manager David Bell who has inspired a group of mostly unknown and unproven players to put up a worthy fight on a nightly basis.

Reds OF TJ Friedl take his hot bat to Milwaukee to battle the Brewers.

At the first true signpost of the 2022 season, everything seemed to be going to plan for the Milwaukee Brewers (73-65) as they led the National League Central by four games on Memorial Day. However, since May 30th, the Beer Makers have stumbled to a 41-47 mark entering Thursday and trail the first-place St. Louis Cardinals by nine games.

Unfortunately, the summer-long skid has the Brewers on the brink of missing the postseason for the first time since the 2017 campaign. As play begins today, Milwaukee is 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the third and final Wild Card slot in the senior circuit.

As usual, the Brew Crew have dominated Cincinnati this season winning eight of the 12 contests. Nevertheless, the Redlegs took two of three from the Brew Crew early last month during a series at American Family Field. Only once since 2017, during the pandemic shortened 2020 season, have the Reds captured the season series from the Brewers.

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Brewers

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. Milwaukee Brewers starter Jason Alexander

Nick Lodolo (3-5 3.95 ERA) gets the call in tonight's opener as he opposes Jason Alexander (2-2 5.03 ERA) of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cincinnati Reds rookie is coming off arguably the best start of his young major league career.

Tossing six shutout innings of two-hit baseball versus the Colorado Rockies, Lodolo mowed down nine Rockies while only issuing one free pass. Over his last seven starts, the southpaw has compiled an impressive 3.32 ERA with 44 punch outs in 40.2 frames.

Jason Alexander, who is not a marine biologist in the offseason, picked up one of his two victories on the season in a June 18th start against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Expect to see a lot of traffic on the base paths as opponents are slashing .300/.366/.465 versus the Milwaukee right-hander.

Cincinnati Reds starter Chase Anderson vs. Milwaukee Brewers starter Adrian Houser

Saturday finds Chase Anderson (0-2 12.60 ERA) toeing the rubber while Adrian Houser (5-9 4.83 ERA) gets the nod for Craig Counsell's club. Let's extract the positives from Anderson's last outing.

Even though he was lifted with two outs in the third inning, the 34-year-old right-hander fanned four Colorado Rockies without allowing a hit. Hopefully, pitching in Milwaukee will provide Anderson with some positive mojo. He had the best season of his nine-year career when he went 12-4 with an excellent 2.74 ERA in 25 starts as a member of the Brewers 2017 squad.

Over his last five starts against the Reds, Adrian Houser has major issues recording outs. Hurling 23.1 innings, Redlegs have reached base an astonishing 42 times via a hit or base on balls. Outfielders Albert Almora Jr and TJ Friedl are a combined 6-for-12 versus the Milwaukee right-hander.

Cincinnati Reds starter Justin Dunn vs. Milwaukee Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff

Sunday's matinee series finale features Justin Dunn (1-2 4.82 ERA) while Brandon Woodruff (9-4 3.41 ERA) stars in the role of villain. In his last four appearances, the Cincinnati right-hander has posted solid results.

Surrendering seven runs in 19.2 frames, Dunn has compiled 14 strikeouts and has shown the promise that endeared him to the Reds front office when they made the deal to send Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle. This will be the 26-year-old's first start against the Brewers.

It finally happened. During his last outing against the Reds, Cincinnati finally got to Brandon Woodruff. Denting the plate six times in 4.1 innings, the Reds took the former two-time All-Star deep twice in the 10-5 Reds' victory. Let's hope this is the start of a new trend.

Reds OF TJ Friedl is improving his standing heading into 2023.

Don't tell TJ Friedl there's nothing to play for over the final month of the 2022 season. Attempting to secure a spot on next year's roster, the 27-year-old rookie has taken advantage of his opportunities in his last 30 appearances.

Slashing .344/.394/.644 with five homers and 15 RBIs, Friedl has excelled when called upon. Through his first 62 big league games, his numbers would project to be .281/.335/.478 with 16 round-trippers and as many stolen bases over a 162-game season. Needless to say, those numbers will play.

Not only has Friedl provided value at the plate, but, he's been one of the best defenders on the roster. Prior to yesterday's struggles in with sun at Wrigley Field, Friedl had posted very good defensive numbers.

If it's speed you desire, his six stolen bases, in only 48 games, ranks third on the ball club. In addition, Friedl's sprint speed places in the 76th percentile across the majors per Baseball Savant. As an above-average defender with pop in his bat, it's not hard to imagine TJ Friedl becoming the left-handed version of Chris Heisey. That's not a bad thing.

Prediction: Reds can't get over the hump against the Brewers.

Can the Redlegs make it three series victories in a row? Not so fast, my friend. Look for the Brewers' dominance over the Reds to extend to at least one more series as the Beer Makers take two of three from the Reds before Cincinnati returns home to host the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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