The Cincinnati Reds will look to win consecutive games for the first time in three weeks and again stave off negative history when they host the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night.
The teams are playing the second game of their three-game season-ending series in Cincinnati and their fifth straight against each other.
After avoiding their first 100-loss season in 40 years for one night, the Reds look for their second straight win when they send right-hander Luis Cessa (4-4, 4.76 ERA) to the mound. Cessa will be making his 10th start of the season and his second against the Cubs.
On Sept. 8 at Wrigley Field, Cessa allowed two runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings as the Reds rallied in the ninth inning for a 4-3 win. That was the middle victory in a three-game win streak from Sept. 7-9, the last time the Reds posted consecutive victories.
As the Reds look ahead to 2023, they are looking at small market teams who have rebuilt on the fly and have enjoyed success in the process. The team that comes to the mind of manager David Bell is the Cleveland Guardians.
The Reds split their four games with their cross-state rival this season and watched as the Guardians got hot in the second half of the season and ran away with the American League Central Division crown.
"I do think the Guardians are a good model as far as the way they play," Bell said. "I know when we played them over the last few years, we always kind of walk away from there going, 'man, this team is really tough to play.' They do a lot of things really well. They don't blow you away with big-name guys necessarily, not that it always matters, but they just do a lot of things right the way."
The Cubs counter with right-hander Javier Assad (2-2, 3.62), who earned his second career win in his last outing Sept. 29 at home against Philadelphia. He tossed five scoreless innings, holding the Phillies to five hits, striking out three and walking two.
Assad will be facing the Reds for the second time in his career, including his first at Great American Ball Park. Assad faced the Reds Sept. 7 at Wrigley Field, taking his first career loss after allowing four runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings.
The Cubs feel confident that they have an ace lined up for 2023 in right-hander Marcus Stroman.
In his final start of the season Sunday in an 8-1 win over the Reds, Stroman struck out seven, walked two and allowed five hits over six scoreless innings. Stroman finished 6-7 with a 3.50 ERA this season in 25 starts.
"I thought I did a really good job of bouncing back from a rough start," Stroman said. "A lot of people can kind of cash it in mentally, physically, emotionally. I had close to a 6.00 ERA after my first few starts. It's just a product of all the work that goes into it.
"I'm someone who never gives up regardless of if I've had 10 bad starts or 10 great ones. I'm truly adapting and changing and working in-between each and every start. I'm just thankful for how it all played out."
"Stroman's been great," said Cubs manager David Ross. "I'd watched him pitch from afar. Being able to sign him this offseason and watch him go about his work, I mean, he's all in about everything. The details. He takes care of his body. He invests in his teammates."
--Field Level Media