<
>

Brewers to wrap up series with Reds

MILWAUKEE -- Jonathan Villar is struggling -- badly -- but Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell isn't worried.

One the more pleasant surprises on Milwaukee's roster this season, Villar entrenched himself in the leadoff spot early on in 2016 and kept on hitting, carrying a .297 average into the final month of the season. But in his last 16 games, Villar has gone 5-for-52 at the plate.

"What Jonathan -- and a couple of guys -- are going through is just the grind of a major league season," Counsell said. "From my perspective, they need to go through it because it's what's going to happen next year and the years after that.

"You need to go through it, you need to experience some of this stuff for the first time. You can't take it away from guys, they have to experience it for the first time."

Villar went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout on Saturday but also stole his 59th base, moving past injured Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton for the National League lead.

"I want him to experience some of this a little bit," Counsell said. "Not the feeling of failure, but to know that this is what September feels like. It's important and it's going to help him next year as he goes through the course of a season. That's kind of how I'm thinking about it.

"You're not going to put guys out there who are completely washed out, but I do think that this is part of a 162-game season and when we get to a point when these last 10 games are determining a playoff spot, you want guys who have been through this a bit."

Villar will try to dig out of his funk Sunday against Cincinnati right-hander Brandon Finnegan as the Brewers and Reds wrap up their season series with a matinee at Miller Park.

It will be the final start of the season for Finnegan, who has thrown 167 innings this season in 31 starts for the Reds. He'd like to finish on a high note, especially after lasting only 2 1/3 innings his last time out.

That was supposed to be Finnegan's final outing, but with the Reds short on starting pitching, even with expanded September rosters, manager Bryan Price opted to give Finnegan one more start.

"I'm not going to be sitting around for two weeks, that's the good thing about it," said Finnegan, who is 9-11 with a 4.30 ERA this season. "If I was doing that, I probably would just sit around and get fat. It's just the truth."

Price had considered using Homer Bailey, who hasn't pitched since experiencing arm soreness during an Aug. 28 start, but opted against it for the time being.

"I'm just not ready to commit that he's in the rotation. That's all," Price said. "We haven't gotten to that point yet where we have universal confirmation that that's the way we want to go."

Wily Peralta gets the ball for Milwaukee, his seventh start since returning from a two-month demotion in the minor leagues. Peralta was 4-7 with a 6.68 ERA when he was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on June 11, but since returning to Milwaukee on Aug. 9, he has gone 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA in eight starts.

Peralta has faced the Reds 13 times in his career and twice already this season, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA.