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Series Preview 7/18-21: Cardinals at Reds

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals are off to a good start coming out of the All-Star break. By taking four of six games at home to open the second half, St. Louis is 48-46 and enters Thursday in third place in the National League Central - just three games back of the Cubs. The Cardinals are out to begin an eight-game, two-city trip, starting off with the Reds in Cincinnati on Thursday evening.

In the series opener on Thursday night, Tanner Roark and Dakota Hudson will be the pitching matchup. Roark is in his first season with the Reds after six years with the Nationals. Roark gave up seven earned runs in 4 23 innings pitched out in Colorado in his last start and will make his 19th start of the season on Thursday.

Hudson will make his third start of the season against the Reds on Thursday, entering the day with 13 strikeouts over his last 12 23 innings. Hudson has a 2.77 ERA dating back to June 6th but has allowed five homers across his last four starts. This current Reds’ roster has not homered off Hudson, and the right-hander will look to keep that trend going in the series opener.

Tyler Mahle and Adam Wainwright are in line to go on Friday. Mahle gave up six earned runs to the Rockies back on July 14th and has allowed 12 earned runs over his past three starts. Mahle will make his 19th start of the season on Friday and is on pace to break his personal-high 23 starts, set last year. Jose Martinez is 5-for-9 off Mahle, and Dexter Fowler has taken this right-hander deep.

With his season ERA above 4.00 since the start of May, Wainwright is finally back under the mark (thanks to a stretch of only four earned runs allowed in his last 18 innings) and enters his assignment with a 3.99 ERA in 17 starts this season. This will be Wainwright’s 26th career start against the Reds. Reds long-time first baseman Joey Votto is 15-for-49 with five doubles and three homers off Wainwright, while Yasiel Puig is just 2-for-13 with five punchouts.

Saturday will be a day for fans of quality pitching, with Luis Castillo and Miles Mikolas on the mound. Castillo leads the Reds in virtually every pitching category, earning All-Star honors with 134 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA. Castillo’s .177 opponents’ batting average is the best in the National League, besting Kenta Maeda’s .203. Matt Carpenter is 6-for-15 with two long balls in his career facing Castillo, and Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, Jose Martinez, Kolten Wong, and Matt Wieters have each gone deep one time against the Reds’ best starter.

Mikolas started his second half on a high note, shutting the Pirates out on July 15th in his first complete game of the season. This was Mikolas’ first scoreless outing in nearly a month and first longer than six innings since the end of May. Cincinnati’s current roster has hit a combined .311 off Mikolas, highlighted by Jesse Winker’s 5-for-11 with three extra-base hits.

The teams have not confirmed their starters for Sunday’s series finale, but Anthony DeSclafani and Jack Flaherty are in line to take the mound barring any staff changes.

So, to recap:

Thursday, 7/18, 6:10 | Roark vs. Hudson | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Friday, 7/19, 6:10 | Mahle vs. Wainwright | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Saturday, 7/20, 6:10 | Castillo vs. Mikolas | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Sunday, 7/21, 12:15 | DeSclafani vs. Flaherty | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Notes from around the league:

  • The Yankees acquired Terrance Gore from the Royals on Wednesday afternoon for cash. Gore was added to New York’s 40-man roster and reported to Triple-A. The speedster gives the Yankees some depth in both the outfield and the speed department, potentially making him an attractive option this fall.
  • The Brewers start a four-game series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks on Thursday, and the Cubs will host the Padres at Wrigley Field this weekend.