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Cincinnati Reds option struggling rotation core RHP Graham Ashcraft to Triple-A Louisville

The Cincinnati Reds on Thursday optioned struggling right-hander Graham Ashcraft to Triple-A Louisville, the first demotion for the member of the Reds’ so-called Big Three since his debut week in May 2022.

Ashcraft, who lasted a season-low 3 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s start in Colorado, was 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA through six starts this year, averaging close to six innings per start.

He was 1-2 with a 6.83 ERA and less than 4 2/3 innings per start in his last six.

Graham Ashcraft lasted only 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies on Wednesday, allowing four first-inning  runs and six hits overall. He was 4-3 with a 5.05 ERA when he was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday.
Graham Ashcraft lasted only 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies on Wednesday, allowing four first-inning runs and six hits overall. He was 4-3 with a 5.05 ERA when he was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday.

Ashcraft had a lengthy slump in May and early June last season until a bruised calf landed him on the injured list.

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He had a 2.58 ERA with more than 6 1/3 innings per start over his final 12 starts, pitching through a broken toe in late August that eventually ended his season in early September.

He nonetheless led a battered rotation in starts, quality starts and innings pitched in 2023.

Ashcraft, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo were dubbed the Big Three after they all debuted in 2022 and pitched well enough during that tanking/rebuild season to earn contract extension offers. Greene signed a six-year, $53 million deal early last season.

Ashcraft debuted on May 22 in 2022 as a COVID-19 replacement who was not on the 40-man roster. After technically getting sent back out, he rejoined the Reds rotation five days later and stuck.

Graham Ashcraft was 1-2 with a 6.83 ERA and less than 4 2/3 innings per start in his last six starts this season.
Graham Ashcraft was 1-2 with a 6.83 ERA and less than 4 2/3 innings per start in his last six starts this season.

Because of scheduled off days, the Reds plan to go with a four-man rotation until June 18 – and a bullpen game on that day would allow them to stretch that into the final week of the month.

A roster spot Thursday was needed for the activation from the injured list of right-handed reliever Emilio Pagán, who was sidelined the past two weeks with triceps tightness.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Streaking Cincinnati Reds option struggling Graham Ashcraft to minors