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Joey Votto, Reds look to finish strong vs. Cardinals

Slugger Joey Votto might play his last game for the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals in the season finale.

Votto struggled to come back from shoulder surgery but is finishing the season on the active roster. With the Reds (82-79) eliminated from playoff contention, Votto could make an appearance against the Cardinals (70-91).

Votto’s contract includes a club option for 2024 for $20 million and a $7 million buyout. He has played for the Reds his entire 17-year major league career.

“The injury last year was very difficult, and coming back from it was not easy, and it’s a process,” Votto, 40, said recently. “I am proud that I didn’t cut any corners. I played every day with the combination of intensity and preparation. This is the very best I can do, given what challenges that have been presented to me at this stage of my career. I’m proud of that. I have not cut a single corner, and I’m continuing to give it my very all.”

Right-hander Hunter Greene (4-6, 4.71 ERA) will start for the Reds on Sunday. He allowed seven runs on eight hits — including three homers — in three innings at Cleveland on Tuesday. Cincinnati rallied for an 11-7 win to take him off the hook.

“Tonight wasn’t his best night,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s a team game. He’s picked us up a lot. Our offense definitely was able to pick him up early.”

Prior to that rough outing, Greene delivered one of the best performances of his career. He struck out 14 in seven innings while allowing just one run on three hits in a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 20.

Greene also was outstanding in his last start against the Cardinals, holding them to one unearned run on one hit and four walks in six innings of a 7-1 victory on Sept. 10. Greene is 1-2 with a 3.23 ERA in six career starts against them.

Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (8-13, 4.82) will try to put a positive finish on a subpar season. The right-hander earned a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday in his most recent start after allowing the one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings.

Mikolas has worked 194 1/3 innings for the depleted Cardinals this season and wants to reach the 200-inning plateau again.

“It’s maybe one number that I can get to maybe hang my hat on at the end of what I consider a pretty rough year,” Mikolas told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If I can somehow squeak out 200 innings, I think it says a lot for a full body of work. That might be one number at the end of the season that’s not bad.”

One statistic Mikolas hopes to improve upon is strikeouts. He has just 127 this season.

“Strikeouts are good,” Mikolas said. “Obviously with the new defensive shifts, it’s something that you’ve got to start thinking about. Getting strikeouts when you need them. It’s something I’ll be working on in the offseason.”

Mikolas suffered a 7-1 loss to the Reds on Sept. 10. He allowed five runs on seven hits, including a homer by TJ Friedl and Nick Martini, in 5 1/3 innings.

In his career, Mikolas is 4-7 with a 5.36 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) against the Reds.

–Field Level Media

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