These are desperate and weird times. The Cardinals, it would seem, are not good. On the other hand, they aren’t really bad. They just played a stretch of 13 games against the four teams in direct competition with them for the playoffs and went 7-6. AMong those games are three one-run losses and four one-run wins, yet it seems like the team is a disaster. They aren’t a disaster, they just seem so close to something good, that average feels terrible. The Cardinals should destroy the Reds.*
*W% with title, .540. W% without title, .448
If you want to know what an actual bad team looks like, pay attention to the Cincinnati Reds this weekend. The lineup is actually decent generally, but they appear to be without Zach Cozart and Scott Schebler which probably puts them below the Cardinals. On the pitching side Cincinnati is just plain awful. Franchise-wise, they don’t look like the Cardinals at all.
From 2010-2014, the Reds were pretty good after nine straight seasons finishing below .500. They won 91, 79, 97, and 90 games, made the playoffs three times, but won just two games total and never won a series. Since then, they have won 76, 64, 68, and are on pace for 67 wins this year. That’s what bad looks like. The Cardinals are average this season after being great in past year and merely good last year. We are all terrible disappointed about it, but the Cardinals are not going to rebuild and they are going to try and get better, and odds are, they will be better next year. That’s not bad.
So Scott Schebler is out and it looks like prospect Jesse Winker is taking his place. Winker gets a lot of walks, doesn’t strike out and doesn’t hit for power notwithstanding his two homers and two doubles in just 30 big league plate appearances. On an odd note, Scooter Gennett is still hitting well even without including that four-homer game. It’s 2013 all over again.
The rest of the Reds you know. I have to admit being surprised that Eugenio Suarez has kept up his above average bat all season as in past years he’s fallen off a bit. Billy Hamilton is still stealing a lot but hasn’t figured out that getting on base thing. Jose Peraza has taken over at shortstop with Cozart out, but he still isn’t hitting. Adam Duvall hasn’t done much lately, striking out 30% of the time while walking just 4% of the time over the last month. Joey Votto is still great.
Tonight, Asher Wojciechowski gets the start for the Reds. He started against the Cardinals in June, giving up just two runs with six strikeouts and two walks. He gave up six homers in his other five starts and has pitched in the bullpen over the last few months. He’s been decent out of the bullpen, but likely isn’t equipped to start as he generally throws just a fastball and slider with his change not up the same level. Mike Leake starts for St. Louis.
On Saturday, Luis Castillo will start for the Reds at home. The 24-year-old righty has pitched pretty well for the Reds since getting called up with a 4.04 FIP, a 3.56 ERA, a good strikeout rate, decent walk rate, and a home run rate that isn’t terrible given the home park. He throws his fastball in the high-90s and also uses a change and slider that have both been effective. Lance Lynn, who is still on the Cardinals, will pitch for St. Louis.
Homer Bailey gets the call for the Cardinals on Sunday. Bailey is year four of a six-year, $105 million contract, and has pitched around 220 innings total thus far. He’s made eight starts this year, and they have not gone well with a 5.49 FIP and 7.32 ERA. He’s striking out just 12% of batter and walking 8% of them. He’s been a little bit better since his first two disastrous starts and his velocity is fine, but it has been a long road back for Bailey. Adam Wainwright returns from the disabled list for the Cardinals.
Tonight, August 4, 5:40 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Saturday, August 5, 6:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Sunday, August 6, 12:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest