The Cincinnati Reds are rebuilding from the bottom up.
Rookie Graham Ashcraft hopes to be one of their main pillars.
He'll get another opportunity to prove he can be a vital part of the starting rotation when he takes the mound against the Brewers in the rubber game of their three-game serieson Sunday in Milwaukee.
Ashcraft (5-2, 4.12 ERA) is coming off the best start of his career.
The right-hander did not allow an earned run over a season-high 8 1/3 innings in a 2-1 win against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. He gave up five hits, struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Reds manager David Bell said he considered removing Ashcraft after the seventh inning, but he was swayed by the look of confidence Ashcraft displayed between innings and sent him out for the eighth.
He quickly retired the side in order, throwing seven of his eight pitches for strikes.
"The eighth inning was one of his best," Bell said. "That made it pretty easy to send him back out for the ninth."
Ashcraft has shown his durability, throwing at least 100 pitches in each of his past five starts.
He's also learning which of his pitches work best against major league hitters. Ashcraft had a lot of success with his cut fastball in his most recent outing.
"It was really good," he said. "The slider wasn't there at the beginning, but later on it started picking up and started getting the shape I wanted it to have."
His second-best pitch was the sinker.
"I was able to locate it," he said. "I was beating guys inside with it and getting a lot of soft contact."
He made his only start against Milwaukee on June 18 in Cincinnati and gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings, taking the loss in a 7-3 defeat. Brewers shortstop Willy Adames homered off of Ashcraft.
Hunter Greene was scheduled to start the series finale for the Reds, but he was placed on the 15-day injured list on Friday with a right-shoulder strain.
The Brewers plan to counter with right-hander Corbin Burnes (8-5, 2.49) on Sunday.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner will look to improve on his most recent start while trying to get into a groove for the stretch run.
He gave up four runs on three hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday and took the loss in a 5-3 defeat.
"It's not just this outing -- it's been all year," Burnes said. "(I'm) constantly searching to find something to keep consistent with and get in that good groove and get that good feeling. (I) just haven't done it yet."
Burnes has made 12 appearances against the Reds in his career, but only two starts. He's 1-1 with a 2.67 ERA against them. Burnes made both of those starts last season, and the first one turned out to be the closest he's ever come to a complete game.
He threw 8 1/3 shutout innings in Cincinnati on July 18, allowing five hits, striking out 12 and walking one in an 8-0 win.
--Field Level Media