Coming off a five-game set at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals will keep the inner-division play going with three games at Great American Ball Park this week against the Reds. The series will begin on Monday evening.
Riding a nine-game win streak, the 51-49 Pirates have taken over third place in the division, eight back of the 58-40 Cubs and 4.5 games behind of the 56-45 Brewers. The Cardinals, at 50-49, are 8.5 back of Chicago and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot.
On Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that Matt Carpenter has been named the National League Player of the Week after hitting six home runs last week with 10 runs batted in and a 1.706 slugging percentage. Rougned Odor of the Rangers earned the American League honors after slashing .615/.571/.846.
Luis Castillo will take the mound for the Reds at 6:10 PM Central time. Castillo has made 20 starts for Cincinnati this season, including three against these Cardinals. Castillo fell victim to Carpenter on Saturday, 7/14, when the St. Louis leadoff hitter started the game with a home run to the right-field corner. In 103 1⁄3 innings for the Reds, Castillo has a 4.00 xFIP with a 8.36 K/9 rate.
The Cardinals will counter with Daniel Poncedeleon, a 26-year-old who will be making his Major League debut. Poncedeleon has pitched exclusively at the Triple-A level this season, going 9-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 18 games (seventeen starts) for the Redbirds in 2018. Poncedeleon has fanned 103 batters in 92 innings, and batters combined for a .198 batting average facing the right-handed hurler. Poncedeleon is starting in the place of Carlos Martinez, who hit the shelf after his start on 7/19 with an oblique injury.
To add Poncedeleon to the active roster, the Cardinals placed second baseman Kolten Wong on the disabled list with left knee inflammation.
The middle game of the series is set for Tuesday and is also a 6:10 PM start; Homer Bailey will get the nod against Austin Gomber. Bailey has not pitched in the Majors since late May, as a knee issue and underwhelming results led to time in Triple-A. In his last seven big-league starts, Bailey had a 9.37 ERA. Yadier Molina has three home runs in 42 career at-bats facing Bailey.
Gomber, like Poncedeleon, is making his first start in the Majors. Unlike him, however, Gomber enters with some experience, as he appeared in 15 games as a reliever between June 2 and July 3. In that time, Gomber maintained a 1.33 WHIP in 14 1⁄3 innings. For the Redbirds as a starter, Gomber had 76 strikeouts and a 3.42 ERA in 68 1⁄3 frames. This will be Gomber’s third matchup against the Reds. The team will need to make a move prior to Tuesday’s game to promote Gomber; it seems likely that he would be swapped for Poncedeleon.
Wednesday is the finale of this series, an 11:35 AM first pitch, with Sal Romano and Jack Flaherty set to start for their respective squads. Romano is in his second season as a starter for the Reds and will make his 20th start of the season in the matinee. In 11 home assignments in 2018, batters are hitting .251 off Romano - notably lower than the .278 BAA Romano has on the road.
St. Louis’s Flaherty enters Wednesday’s game with a 3.15 ERA in 80 innings across 15 starts. The 22-year-old Flaherty leads the rotation with a 10.80 K/9 rate, better than Martinez’s 8.37, Luke Weaver’s 8.24, and Miles Mikolas’s 6.44. On the road this year, Flaherty has allowed only five home runs in 42 innings, a trend he will look to continue in the hitter-friendly GABP.