Two teams will try to close out their disappointing seasons on a high note when the Chicago Cubs visit the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday's walk-off win assured the Reds will not match the 1982 Reds for the most losses in franchise history. That team finished 61-101, the only 100-loss season in club history. This season's edition will avoid a second 100-loss season with a win in the season finale.
"I think going into spring training with a feeling like that, I think it means a lot," said Reds catcher Chuckie Robinson, who hit the game-tying home run Tuesday night.
Even with two losses to start the series in Cincinnati, the Cubs have won 15 of 21 games heading into Wednesday's final game.
In Cincinnati's final game of 2022, the Reds will send one of their three promising starting pitchers to make the final start of his rookie season.
Right-hander Graham Ashcraft (5-5, 4.52 ERA) will take the hill for his 19th start of the season, including his fourth against the Cubs.
Ashcraft has been hit hard in his two starts back from the injured list following a right biceps strain. Last Friday in Chicago, the Cubs tagged Ashcraft for six runs -- five earned -- and six hits over just 2 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked two and took the loss in a 6-1 Cubs win.
In his first start back on Sept. 24, Ashcraft allowed four runs and eight hits over four innings in a 10-2 loss to Milwaukee.
The Cubs counter with right-hander Adrian Sampson (4-5, 3.10). Sampson earned his fourth win of the season in his last start Friday vs. Cincinnati, allowing one run over seven innings in Chicago's 6-1 win.
Sampson has allowed two or fewer runs in six straight starts, and eight of his last nine, posting a 2.23 ERA in that span. Sampson has thrown at least five innings in 14 of his 18 starts. He is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA in five career starts against the Reds.
The Cubs have reason for hope as they look ahead to 2023 regarding another young pitcher. Hayden Wesneski finished his rookie audition for the 2023 rotation with a 2.18 ERA over six appearances. In four starts, the right-hander posted a 1.85 ERA with a 0.95 WHIP and .202 opponents' average.
"Oh, man, the debut is really special," Wesneski said. "You can't take that away from me. I'm a big leaguer. You can't take that. ... I like winning. And so, to be honest with you, those things are all really cool, but I'd rather be pitching in (late) October."
In Cincinnati's 3-1 win Monday that snapped a six-game skid, rookie pitcher Hunter Greene posted six shutout innings, allowing two hits while striking out eight. In his final four starts -- all following a right shoulder strain -- the 23-year-old posted a 0.78 ERA with 37 strikeouts over 23 innings.
"I put so much work in during that time off. To be able to see it pay off is always a good feeling," Greene said. "I'm really excited to take everything into the offseason. There's still a lot more work to do, a lot of work. I'm looking forward to that, embracing it and I can't wait for next year."
--Field Level Media