Nearly one-third of the Cardinals’ remaining games are against the Cincinnati Reds with this first series coming at home. Those six games will not make the season for the Cardinals, not with ten games against the Cubs and Brewers, but they certainly should be the easiest way for the Cardinals to get some wins. FanGraphs calculates game odds given the teams and starting pitchers and the Cardinals odds of a sweep are 26% and the odds of taking two of three is around 44%. The Cardinals should destroy the Reds.*
*With title, .576 W%, a 93-win pace. Without title, .448 W%, a 73-win pace.
It’s been a little over a month since these two teams last played when the Cardinals took two out of three. Of the six starting pitchers in that series, only one will pitch this series as Mike Leake has been traded, Adam Wainwright is hurt, Luis Castillo has been shut down for innings, Asher Wojiechowksi isn’t in the rotation, and Homer Bailey will miss this series. Only Lance Lynn remains.
Billy Hamilton is currently on the disabled list with a fractured thumb and Devin Mesoraco is out with a fractured foot. Phil Ervin is getting most of the playing time in center field. Ervin is 25 years old who has risen steadily through the minors since being drafted in the first round back in 2013. He hit well in Double-A in 2016 and stole 36 bases. He’s been closer to average this season in Triple-A, also stealing 23 bases before his promotion to the majors. He’s hit well for Cincinnati, but not much can be read into 41 plate appearances.
Tucker Barnhart has been the everday catcher and been decent. Zack Cozart has been hurt some this season so he couldn’t be traded at the deadline and now heads toward free agency. He is having a really good season overall with a 145 wRC+, discovering patience and power after a below-average offensive career before now. Joey Votto is still one of the best players in baseball at age-34 with a 163 wRC+, right in line with his career 158 figure.
Eugenio Suarez is having a breakout season also having discovered patience and power this season. Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler are average hitters in corner outfield spots, though Duvall has struggled lately. Scooter Gennett is the starting second baseman and has overtaken Jose Peraza there, though Peraza does see time at shortstop, second base and in the outfield. I do not believe Gennett has ever faced the Cardinals.
Tonight, Robert Stephenson gets the start for the Reds. Stephenson has a mid-90s fastball that he throws most of the time, and he does get a fair amount of strikeouts. With those strikeouts, come walks. Over his last four starts, Stephenson has struck out 28 in 22.2 innings against 15 walks. He has given up just one home run, which has helped him to a 3.37 FIP and 2.38 ERA. He’s a fly ball pitcher so it might be important to get a few of them over the wall. Lance Lynn will pitch for the Cardinals.
On Wednesday, Tyler Mahle will make his fourth major league start. The 22-year-old righty started the season in Double-A, pitched very well, moved up to Triple-A, pitched very well, and now he’s in the majors. He throws mostly fastball-slider with the occasional change. In three major league starts, he has struck out just 10 and walked eight in 15 innings without giving up a homer. Jack Flaherty, in one of the younger pitching matchups of the season (Julio Urias v Antonio Senzatela on May 14 is the youngest), will get another start for the Cardinals.
In the series finale, Amir Garrett will take the mound for Cincinnati. Garrett is not in the middle of a good first year, giving up 22 homers in 13 starts. He just rejoined the rotation and in his only start of the second half, gave up four runs in five innings, including three homers. He throws a fourseam fastball and mixes in a slider and change. Luke Weaver gets the start for the Cardinals.
Tonight, September 12, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Wednesday, September 13, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Thursday, September 14, 12:45 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Other series of note:
Pirates v Brewers
Mets v Cubs