CINCINNATI -- The Milwaukee Brewers are solidly in fourth place in the National League Central and were eliminated early from the playoff chase. But, their starting rotation is looking to build some momentum heading into the offseason.
Over their past 21 games, Brewers starters have posted a 2.92 ERA with 39 earned runs allowed in 120 2/3 innings since 8/22. The 2.92 ERA led all of baseball for that period entering Monday's games.
Those numbers looked more impressive prior to Monday night when Wily Peralta allowed three first-inning runs. But, collectively, Brewers starters have been on a roll.
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"What's impressive is that they have it in them, it's confidence for them," manager Craig Counsell said. "You want to get them to the point where they're consistent through the whole year. When you pitch like that, you can have good stretches (as a team)."
Right-hander Matt Garza will try to continue the positive stretch on Tuesday, when he faces the Reds in the second of three games at Great American Ball Park.
Garza is making his 17th start of the season and second against Cincinnati. He was sharp his last time out against the first-place Chicago Cubs, allowing one run on three hits with five Ks in six innings of a 2-1 Brewers' win.
"You have a bunch of guys pitching like that, you feel like you have a chance to win every night," Counsell said. "That's pretty much the way it's been (even though) it's an individual story in a lot of ways."
Garza has had mixed results against the Reds in his career, going 4-4 with a 5.04 ERA IN 13 starts. At Great American Ball Park, it's been about the same story with a 2-2 mark and 4.08 ERA in seven starts.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Dan Straily, who has been among the pleasant surprises for them this season. Straily's story is worth telling again.
He was waived and traded by three teams during Spring Training. Injuries opened up a spot in the bullpen for Straily who soon found a home in the starting rotation where he has shined.
Straily has made 10 starts in which he's allowed three or fewer hits, a single-season franchise record and second most in the major leagues behind Cubs' ace Jake Arrieta, who has 11. Opponents are hitting just .224 against him, ninth best in the NL.
He's quite familiar with the Brewers having faced them already twice this season. In his career, Straily is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three appearances against Milwaukee.
Straily went 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his first eight starts after the All-Star break.
Cincinnati likely will be without center fielder Billy Hamilton who's still nursing a strained left oblique that has kept him out of action since Sept. 3.
"He still has some soreness," manager Bryan Price said. "It's better, but he won't do any trunk rotational activities until that's out of there."
The Reds have won four straight games and four of their last five games against Milwaukee.
In 132 career games against the Brewers, Reds first baseman Joey Votto is batting .315 (146-463) with 27 homers and 90 RBIs. His 27 homers and 90 RBIs are his most against any opponent.