In their first meeting of the year, the Cardinals and Reds will play a four-game series at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Cardinals enter the series with a 5-7 record after dropping the three-game set with the Brewers, while the Reds sit at 2-9 - with wins against the Cubs (4/2) and Pirates (4/7) on the young season.
The Reds will give the ball to Sal Romano in Thursday’s series opener at 5:40 PM Central time. Unfamiliar with the 24-year-old, right-handed Romano? That is most likely due to the fact that - despite starting 16 games for the Reds last year - has never faced the Cardinals. He has faced Marcell Ozuna, striking him once and walking him.
Romano regained the rotation spot he handled last summer this spring and has made two starts for the Reds thus far, the most recent against the Pirates. In his five innings of work on 4/7, Romano allowed four earned runs.
Michael Wacha will oppose Romano on the mound. Wacha faced the Diamondbacks in his last outing, holding the Arizona offense to two runs - even though he walked five batters. Unlike Romano, Wacha has a long history against his opponent. Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco have both homered off of Wacha in the past, and Votto has four doubles. Scooter Gennett is 8-for-25 off the Cardinals’ hurler.
The second game of the series will be Friday evening at 5:40 PM Central time. Tyler Mahle will take the mound for the Reds, making his third start of the season. After shutting the Cubs out for six innings in his first start, the Pirates tagged Mahle for five runs on nine hits in 4 2⁄3 innings on 4/8 in Pittsburgh. St. Louis has faced Mahle a little in the past. Jose Martinez leads the small-sample-size charge with two base hits in three at-bats.
Luke Weaver will take the ball for the Cardinals in this game. Weaver was great in his most recent start against the Diamondbacks, when he held the stacked lineup to just one earned run over 6 1⁄3 frames with seven punchouts. Reds outfielder Adam Duvall has taken Weaver deep once in his career, one of only two extra-base hits that current Reds players have recorded off Weaver in 35 at-bats against the 24-year-old.
Saturday’s game will be an early, 12:10 PM Central time start and feature Cody Reed on the mound for the Reds. Reed started against the Phillies on 4/9, a day where he allowed three runs in as many innings. Last season, Reed was almost exclusively a relief pitcher, appearing in 13 games - 12 out of the bullpen. This came after a 2016 campaign where Reed started 10 games. It appears the Reds are wanting to get Reed back in to a starter’s role.
In his career against the Cardinals, Reed has surrendered doubles to Greg Garcia and Marcell Ozuna, while Yadier Molina has worked for two walks.
Miles Mikolas will toe the rubber for St. Louis on Saturday. Mikolas was assigned to face the Brewers in his last start, one where he allowed four runs in 6 1⁄3 innings in what was a no-decision for him. Having been out of the Majors since 2014, Mikolas has not faced any of the current Reds players. Mikolas has given up three home runs in two starts, so it will be interesting to see if he can reverse that trend in a long-ball haven like Great American.
The fourth and final game of this series will be on Sunday at 12:10 PM Central time. Reds veteran hurler Homer Bailey will get the nod. Bailey trifled with a no-hitter in his last start, holding the Phillies hitless through four innings. Cesar Hernandez spoiled the effort with one-out single in the fifth. Bailey has a barrel of experience against these Cardinals, and it’s been St. Louis with the upperhand. Matt Carpenter is 18-for-33 (.545) off Bailey, and Kolten Wong has a double and a triple facing him. Molina has perhaps seen him the best of all, with three doubles and homers off the 31-year-old right-hander.
- Sam Tuivailala has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left knee strain. Mike Mayers has been recalled from Triple-A Memphis.
- After serving his one-game suspension on Wednesday for Sunday’s altercations with Arizona, Yadier Molina is good to go for this series.