A loss in Wednesday’s series finale in Milwaukee ended a six-game winning streak for the Cardinals, who enter Friday with a 73-59 record after winning eight of 10 and 15 of their last 19 games. This weekend, St. Louis will host the final meeting of 2019 with the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals are 40-24 at Busch Stadium this season.
Prior to Friday’s game, the Cardinals placed Lane Thomas on the 10-day injured list with a right wrist fracture. Tyler O’Neill was activated and rejoined the 25-man roster.
In Friday’s series opener, Dakota Hudson and Trevor Bauer will toe the rubber. Hudson comes into this assignment with an 18 2⁄3 inning scoreless streak that dates back to August 14th. Hudson has allowed just two hits in his last 13 innings and will look to further improve his 2.97 ERA in 13 home starts this season.
Bauer was tagged for seven earned runs in his last start, a three-inning outing in Pittsburgh. The week before that, Bauer held the Padres to two runs and punched out 11 batters in seven innings. In five starts since coming from the Indians, Bauer has a 7.62 ERA with a 1.58 WHIP in 26 innings.
The Cardinals and Reds will play a doubleheader on Saturday, with the first game serving as the make-up from a rainout in early June. Michael Wacha and Tyler Mahle will start the afternoon contest. Wacha pitched into the fifth in his last start, one where the Rockies scored three runs - two of them coming on solo home runs. It is definitely important that Wacha gives the Cardinals some length on Saturday afternoon. Wacha has not recorded an out past the fifth inning in a start since late-June.
Mahle has been on the injured list since late-July with a left hamstring strain. Mahle’s last start in the Majors, in fact, came against the Cardinals back on July 19th in St. Louis. The Cardinals scored four off Mahle in 5 1⁄3 innings.
The nightcap on Saturday will feature Daniel Ponce de Leon and Sonny Gray. This will be Ponce de Leon’s first big league in over a month and his 11th appearance of the season - his eighth start. Ponce de Leon has 10 walks in his last nine innings for the Cardinals, with batters hitting .247 off him in the month of July. Ponce de Leon tossed seven hitless innings against these Reds in his Major League debut back in July of 2018.
Gray enters the weekend with a 1.74 ERA over his last seven starts, with 26 strikeouts in his last 17 innings. Gray has held his road opponents to a .189 batting average this season. Dexter Fowler is 5-for-10 facing Gray in his career, while Paul Goldschmidt is 0-for-8 with five whiffs.
Sunday’s series finale will have a matchup of Miles Mikolas and Luis Castillo. Mikolas will make his team-leading 28th start of the season on Sunday and take on a Reds bunch that he has not had much success against. The current Reds roster is slashing .347/.391/.634 off Mikolas, with Jesse Winker (5-for-13, two homers) and Eugenio Suarez (4-for-8) leading the charge.
The Cardinals stunned Castillo back on August 16th, when they knocked him out of the start in the fifth inning with eight earned runs scored against him; seven of the eight runs came on long balls from Fowler, Goldschmidt, and Paul DeJong. Castillo whiffed 11 San Diego batters in his last start and leads the Reds with 160 innings pitched this season, and the 26-year-old will surely pass his previous career high of 169 2⁄3 frames that he set last year.
So, to recap:
Friday, 8/30, 7:15 | Hudson vs. Bauer | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN
Saturday, 8/31, 12:15 - Game One | Wacha vs. Mahle | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN
Saturday, 8/31, 6:15 - Game Two | Ponce de Leon vs. Gray | FSMW, KMOX, CRN
Sunday, 9/1, 1:15 | Mikolas vs. Castillo | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN