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MLB Graham Ashcraft, Reds aim for success vs. Marlins

Two teams that figure to be busy at the MLB trade deadline will conclude the business of their four-game series Thursday when the Cincinnati Reds host the Miami Marlins.

Following an emotional win for Luis Castillo Wednesday night, the Reds send right-hander Graham Ashcraft (4-2, 4.70 ERA) to the mound to make his 12th career start in Thursday’s matinee. The rookie pitcher is coming off his first post-All Star break outing in which he allowed four runs and seven hits over 4 2/3 innings, falling one out shy of qualifying for the win in Cincinnati’s 9-5 victory last Friday against St. Louis.

In the game against the Cardinals, he labored on a hot, humid night, throwing a career-high 112 pitches while getting just two outs deep into the fifth.

Ashcraft is also looking for his first win since June 24 when he held San Francisco to two runs on six hits over a season-best eight innings. Since then, Ashcraft is 0-1 with three consecutive no decisions. Ashcraft will be making his first career start against Miami.

The Marlins have not announced a starter for Thursday’s series finale.

Miami, like Cincinnati, has a starting pitcher that has generated significant trade interest and rumors as the MLB trade deadline of Aug. 2 approaches.

Pablo Lopez matched a career-best with 11 strikeouts over seven innings in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Reds. If he stays on schedule, Lopez would pitch again Sunday in Miami against the New York Mets.

“I don’t really know how any of that works,” Lopez said of trade rumors. “So, I think in my mind, I’m already just preparing to come (in) for my Day 1 routine and just get ready for the next one. I just have to be in the moment.”

Both ace Sandy Alcantara and Lopez — who isn’t a free agent until after the 2024 season — were acquired by the Marlins in 2017 trades.

Against the Reds Tuesday, Lopez (7-5, 3.03) was able to mix his pitches while not walking a batter for the first time since May 24.

“That’s as good as stuff probably we’ve seen all year,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Good fastball (and we) didn’t really know which direction was going to cut it. He had a good sinker, great changeup, some good curveballs.”

Lopez was 4-1 with a 1.05 ERA over his first seven starts. But in his last 12 before Tuesday, Lopez struggled to a 2-4 record with a 4.50 ERA.

The Reds moved backup catcher Aramis Garcia to the 10-day injured list from COVID IL, filling out Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.

In another roster move Wednesday, Cincinnati sent outfielder Albert Almora to Triple-A Louisville to begin a rehab assignment. Almora hasn’t played since July 10 but has been regaining his strength after dealing with an illness that affected him for several days. Almora is hitting .234 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 48 games this season.

–Field Level Media

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