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Series Preview 8/20-23: Reds vs. Cardinals

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After going .500 on a eight-game stint in Chicago (three against the White Sox and five against the Cubs), the Cardinals are back in St. Louis for a 12-game homestand that will carry us through the last weekend of August. First up at Busch Stadium: four games with the Reds, starting Thursday evening.

The Reds had a positive case of COVID-19 on Friday and returned to action on Wednesday with a doubleheader against the Royals. The Cardinals will not have to face Trevor Bauer in this series, as the right-hander blanked Kansas City on Wednesday night. The Reds got infielder Mike Moustakas back from the injured list this week; ‘Moose’ hit five home runs against St. Louis pitching last year.

The Cardinals will face perhaps their toughest task of the upcoming series in the opener, with Sonny Gray set to start against Adam Wainwright on Thursday.

For Wainwright, this will be his third start of the regular season, and he will look to carry the same edge he brought over the weekend against the White Sox. In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Wainwright turned in five innings of three-run ball, helping the Cardinals to a sweep of the day.

Gray has held opponents to a .173 batting average with 45 strikeouts across five starts for the Reds in 2020. Dating back to the start of the second half last summer, Gray has a 2.10 ERA with a 147:44 strikeout-to-walk ratio. St. Louis slashed just .155/.254/.224 off Gray in 2019.

Dakota Hudson and Anthony DeSclafani will meet on Friday evening. Hudson worked four innings and held the White Sox to one run on Sunday. Friday will be Hudson’s third start of the season. Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez hit the Reds’ only two home runs off Hudson last year; Suarez was 5-for-10 off the Cards’ righty. Take away Suarez, and Cincinnati hit .215 off Hudson in 2019.

DeSclafani would like to forget his most recent start. Back on 8/13 against the Pirates, DeSclafani gave up nine earned runs on as many hits in two innings. Entering that outing, DeSclafani had logged 11 scoreless innings over his first pair of starts. Matt Carpenter was 4-for-8 off DeSclafani last year with a home run and three walks, while Dexter Fowler went 5-for-11 with a double.

Saturday’s matchup is set to feature a pair of lefties: Kwang Hyun Kim and Wade Miley. Kim made his first Major League start on Monday in the first of half of the doubleheader against the Cubs. Kim walked three in the outing and allowed a homer to Ian Happ, but the lefty finished with only the one run allowed in 3 23 innings.

It seems like Miley has been around for ages, but the 33-year-old lefty is working in his 10th Major League season — and first with the Reds. Miley has spent some time on the injured list this summer, dealing with a groin injury, but he is expected to go for the Reds on Saturday. In two starts that have totaled 3 13 innings, Miley has allowed six runs with four walks and a .353 opponents’ batting average.

The series will finish up on Sunday afternoon, with Daniel Ponce de Leon and Tyler Mahle. Ponce de Leon started for the Cardinals on Tuesday against the Cubs in Chicago and worked into the fourth inning. Ponce de Leon allowed two runs and fanned seven Cubs in the start, his second since moving to the starting rotation. Remember his MLB debut?

This will be Mahle’s fourth appearance of the season and third start. Mahle held the Indians scoreless for six innings back on 8/4 and has surrendered just one big fly in 13 13 frames in 2020 (a 0.67 HR/9). It’s a small sample, sure, but it is quite the improvement from the 1.74 HR/9 rate he held a year ago.

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Thursday, 8/20, 7:15 | Wainwright vs. Gray | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR

Friday, 8/21, 7:15 | Hudson vs. DeSclafani | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR

Saturday, 8/22, 7:15 | Kim vs. Miley | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR

Sunday, 8/23, 1:15 | Ponce de Leon vs. Mahle | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR

Video is credited to the official Major League Baseball YouTube channel.