CINCINNATI — Veteran catcher Stephen Vogt is expected to make his first start for Milwaukee on Wednesday night when the Brewers continue a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Vogt will be behind the plate for right-hander Chase Anderson, who has been among the team’s most consistent starting pitchers over the past 12 months.
Despite an 8-6 loss on Tuesday, the Brewers (41-38) have won six of eight meetings this season against the Reds. Cincinnati (32-44) won 11 of 19 against Milwaukee in 2016.
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The Brewers have spent 38 days alone in first place.
In his past 27 starts dating to last July, Anderson has gone 11-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 149 innings. He is 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA in five career starts against Cincinnati. Anderson (6-2, 2.92 ERA) hasn’t faced the Reds this season, but he went 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two outings against them last year.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said the difference is in the curveball and the cutter.
“Chase has just become a better pitcher,” Counsell said. “He’s trusting four pitches. I think he started the season last year trusting two pitches. That’s a lot more options for hitters to defend and think about. That’s a big difference.”
Vogt was claimed off waivers Sunday from the Oakland A’s, who designated him for assignment three days earlier. He flied out as a pinch hitter on Tuesday night in his Brewers debut. While manager Craig Counsell expects Manny Pina to be the Brewers’ regular catcher, the 32-year-old Vogt brings a veteran dimension to the team.
“We can add another left-handed bat to our lineup,” Counsell said. “We have the potential to put five left-handed batters in our lineup against some pitchers, which I think we’ll do. He’ll assimilate really fast to the group. He’s a fresh set of eyes which could be helpful.”
Milwaukee also welcomed back two key components off the disabled list on Tuesday, left fielder Ryan Braun and infielder Jonathan Villar. Braun was expected to play in two games during the Cincinnati series, but after starting Tuesday, it is unlikely he will be back in left field on Wednesday.
Rookie right-hander Luis Castillo (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second career start on Wednesday for Cincinnati. On Friday at Washington, Castillo was in line for his first major league victory before the bullpen melted down in a 6-5, 10-inning loss. Castillo allowed two runs with five walks and five strikeouts in five innings.
Castillo, the Marlins’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2016, was acquired in a January trade that sent Dan Straily to Miami. In 169 minor league appearances, including 54 starts, Castillo went 21-22 with a 2.66 ERA. He had two complete games and 36 saves in 41 chances.
Cincinnati hopes to have Zack Cozart back in the lineup Tuesday. Cozart, who has been on the disabled list since June 19 with right quad tightness, is leading all National League shortstops in the latest All-Star voting.
Even without Cozart, the Reds boast one of the best defensive clubs in the National League, something that helped pick up their struggling pitching staff.
“The pitchers trust us 100 percent to play good defense behind them,” center fielder Billy Hamilton said. “Our defense is going to be there at all times, even when we’re struggling hitting.”