After a strong effort in his first Major League start of 2014, Dylan Axelrod will be recalled to help the Reds continue their dominant season over the Cubs, against whom they are 10-5.
Though they've lost all four of their series against the Cardinals, the Reds have been 10-1-1 in series against their other National League Central opponents, and they're going for another series win in Thursday's rubber match. Axelrod pitched well in his Cincinnati debut on Aug. 17 at Colorado, allowing two runs on seven hits over six innings. He left the game in line for the win before the bullpen blew the lead in an eventual 10-5 loss.
Afterward he was sent back to Triple-A Louisville, where he last started on Friday, going seven innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits, walking two and striking out eight, but taking the loss. Reds manager Bryan Price said the temporary demotion was not performance-related.
"Knowing we were going to need a fresh arm on Thursday to start and not going to need six starters, that necessitated Dylan going out, even though he didn't deserve to go out," Price said. "Had we not had the water main break [to postpone the game the day before], he'd just be part of our regular five-man rotation. He did nothing but impress us. I'm sure we'll see him back here."
The Cubs will counter with Jake Arrieta, who's been superb over his past three starts. He's pitched 21 1/3 innings while allowing only 11 hits and three earned runs.
In his last start, he defeated his former team, American League East-leading Baltimore. Arrieta recently expressed a desire to make every start the rest of the season, though the Cubs have been bringing up new players to get looks.
"I want to make every start that I have lined up throughout the end of September," Arrieta said. "If something comes up, I guess that will be addressed. I'd love to stay in the mix and finish out on a high note."
Cubs: Rizzo expected back in lineup
First baseman Anthony Rizzo did not start Wednesday because of lower back tightness, which had forced him out of Tuesday's game.
Manager Rick Renteria said Rizzo would receive treatment Wednesday, and he could be back in the lineup Thursday.
Rizzo, who hit his 30th home run on Tuesday in the Cubs' 3-0 win over the Reds, has started 129 of the team's 132 games.
Reds: Bailey's season in doubt after MRI results
Staring pitcher Homer Bailey underwent a second MRI exam on the strained flexor mass tendon in his right forearm, and the results learned Wednesday did not give him the green light to resume throwing.
"Unfortunately, it's not healing the way we thought it would," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said.
Bailey has been out since Aug. 8, and he hasn't tried to throw since he had a platelet-rich plasma injection to help speed his healing shortly after going on the disabled list. A second PRP injection is under consideration, but if he has one, it would mean another week of not throwing.
"He's unfortunately very frustrated, [but] I have to think about his arm for the future as well, not just the next four weeks," Lessard said. "We're trying to figure out what's the best thing for him."
Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek is seeking additional opinions from other orthopedic physicians.
"He has an opinion, but he isn't sure if we should continue what we're doing, [or if we] should shut him down completely," Lessard said.
• The Reds are 35-14 against the Cubs over the past three seasons.
• This will be Axelrod's first career appearance against the Cubs.
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.