Pirates’ Brault eyes future as season closes vs. Reds

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Some individual round numbers. A good series to remember going into the offseason. There isn’t a lot more on the line for the players as the host Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds enter their weekend series.

The three games will be the final ones for both clubs, long out of the playoff scene.

Cincinnati (73-85) has lost four in a row and five of six. The Reds are locked into fourth in the five-team National League Central.

Pittsburgh (68-91) have won three straight, a sweep against the Cubs. The Pirates are locked into last place in the NL Central.

Perhaps the biggest milestone on deck belongs to the Reds’ Eugenio Suarez, who is one home run shy of 50.

In the series opener Friday, Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (9-9, 3.84 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh left-hander Steven Brault (4-6, 5.07 ERA).

Brault will be trying to end a recent skid going into the offseason. He has given up 19 earned runs over his past three starts totaling 13 1/3 innings, following a stretch where he allowed 16 earned runs over eight starts totaling 43 innings.

His last time on the mound, Brault gave up six runs, four of them earned, and six hits in 5 1/3 innings last Friday in a 10-1 loss at Milwaukee.

“I was very frustrated coming out because I feel like I had good stuff, and I wanted to finish it well and wasn’t able to. It’s just frustrating,” Brault said, adding that it was a better outing than his previous two and “a huge step forward.”

With a chance to earn a spot in the Pittsburgh rotation next year after spending time in the bullpen earlier this season before injuries decimated the staff, Brault hopes to finish strong — and he figures that’s a theme throughout the team.

“We don’t have the season we want right now, but we’re able to come into environments where we can get the feeling that we need for when we are in the spot we want to be,” Brault said.

“We’re looking to do that next year. Getting this experience now is invaluable for everybody here. … We need to finish out our season. We need to work on some stuff and get ready for next year,” he added.

Against Cincinnati, Brault is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in nine career games, three of them starts, and he carries a scoreless streak of 19 2/3 innings. He has faced DeSclafani once this season, a 7-2 road win May 29 when he pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings.

DeSclafani is 2-2 with a 2.05 ERA in his past seven starts, and he has five straight starts pitching at least six innings while giving up three hits or less.

Most recently, he gave up two runs, one of them earned, and three hits, with seven strikeouts, in six innings in a no-decision Saturday against the Mets.

“I had to dig deep and make some pitches, and I was happy I was able to do that,” DeSclafani said.

In 12 career starts against Pittsburgh, he is 2-6 with a 4.27 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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