A pair of rookie starting pitchers who are enjoying early success in their first big league season square off when the Cincinnati Reds host the Milwaukee Brewers in the second game of a three-game series Saturday.

Cincinnati right-hander Graham Ashcraft (3-0, 2.22 ERA) makes his sixth start of the season and first against the Brewers.

The Reds have won all five of his previous starts, including June 12 when he allowed four runs on nine hits and earned a no-decision in a 7-6 win over the host St. Louis Cardinals.

The Brewers, who won Friday for just the third time in seven games on their nine-game road trip, counter with right-hander Jason Alexander (0-0, 2.16). Alexander will be making his fourth start, and first against the Reds. Alexander also started June 12 and received a no-decision in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win in Washington, allowing just one run on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

While opponents are batting .328 in three appearances, his 2.16 ERA is the third lowest in franchise history of any pitcher after his first three major league

games, all starts, trailing Bill Parsons (1.42 in 1971) and Brandon Woodruff (1.62 in 2017).

The Brewers received some initial good news on starter Aaron Ashby before Friday’s game. Ashby is day-to-day with left forearm tightness after leaving his road start against the New York Mets in the fifth inning, during which he yielded a two-run homer to Mark Canha.

“I would say yes, no news was positive news,” manager Craig Counsell said. “The thing you don’t want to happen is he comes in with soreness. That did not happen.”

Meanwhile, closer Josh Hader isn’t expected back with the Brewers on Saturday when his three-day stint on the paternity list expires. Counsell indicated the hard-throwing lefty will likely rejoin the team back home in Milwaukee on Monday, when the Cardinals visit to begin a four-game series.

On Wednesday, Hader and his wife, Maria, welcomed their first child, a son named Lucas Alexander.

After a two-month delay to his 2022 season, utility player Max Schrock was finally added to the Reds’ active roster on Friday. Schrock was activated off 60-day injured list after battling a left calf strain that bothered him beginning late in spring training.

Schrock was one of the hottest hitters during spring training late in March before the injury in early April prevented him from making his first big league Opening Day roster. In 11 games for Triple-A Louisville, Schrock went 11-for-39 with a homer and three RBIs.

“It’s great to have him back,” manager David Bell said. “He’s become a big part of our team. We haven’t seen him play a ton, but every time he’s here, he’s done really well.”

While Schrock returned, reliever Tony Santillan was placed on the 15-day injured list with lower back pain that the pitcher first reported after Monday’s outing at Arizona. The discomfort gradually worsened over the week, leading to Friday’s move.

Bell said Friday he hopes Santillan can get healthy within the 15-day period and return to his role at the back of the bullpen. The right-hander has a 5.49 ERA in his 21 appearances this season.

“It’s a big loss, but everyone has kind of had that experience of pitching in a lot of different innings and situations, so we’ll get by,” Bell said. “Hopefully it’s just 15 days, he can get on top of this pain, get it out of there and come back and pitch the rest of the year healthy.”

–Field Level Media