The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds will play the second of a four-game series on Friday night. The Reds won the opener 2-1 behind a strong pitching performance from Sonny Gray and the bullpen, as they held the Cardinals to just two hits and struck out the Cardinals 15 times. The Cardinals are tied with the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central, while the Reds are 6.5 games back.
St. Louis will send Adam Wainwright (8-8. 4.35 ERA) to the mound to face off against Cy Young contender Luis Castillo (11-4, 2.69 ERA). Castillo has faced the Cardinals twice this season, going six innings and allowing one run in both games. Wainwright gave up nine hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Reds in late July.
The Reds are the favorite at -150, and the over/under is 9.
St. Louis Looks To Take NL Central Lead
The Cardinals let an opportunity to take the NL Central lead, by themselves, escape them last night when the Cubs blew a 5-0 lead to the Phillies. St. Louis has a record of 63-56 and is 29-33 on the road.
Wainwright has posted a 1.48 WHIP and 4.45 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break, very close to his season numbers. In his last start, he went six innings, allowing only one run in a win over the Pirates. The veteran right-hander has a career record of 9-12 and 5.31 ERA against Cincinnati in 31 career appearances.
In 131 plate appearances against Castillo, Cardinals hitters have a combined OPS of .799. Matt Carpenter is 6 for 15 with a double and two home runs, and Kolten Wong is 3 for 9 with a double and a homer. Wong has been on fire since the break with a .360 average and a .442 on-base percentage.
St. Louis has Tyler O’Neill and Jose Martinez on the 10-day IL.
Reds Keeping Slim Playoff Hopes Alive
Cincinnati is clinging to its playoff life with a record of 57-63 and a home record of 34-28. The Reds stopped a four-game skid with last night’s victory.
Castillo is having a breakout season and should have at least a top-five finish in the Cy Young balloting. He has a 1.11 WHIP in 143 2/3 innings on the season, with only 98 hits allowed and 172 strikeouts. In his career against St. Louis, he is 2-3 with a 3.11 ERA in eight appearances, all starts. He went 6 2/3 innings in his last start against the Cubs, allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out eight.
In 125 plate appearances against Wainwright, Reds hitters have an OPS of .978. Freddy Galvis is 5 for 13 with two doubles and a home run. Joey Votto has three career home runs and an OPS of over 1.000. Tucker Barnhart and Jesse Winkler also have hit homers off the Cardinals pitcher.
Cincinnati has Amir Garrett on suspension, Tyler Mahle and Juan Graterol on the IL, and Votto is listed as day-to-day.
Wainwright has some of his worst career numbers against the Reds. Even if Votto doesn’t play, I see the Reds scoring enough runs to get the victory, especially with Castillo on the mound. Castillo will continue his great run and shut down the Cardinals enough to keep the Reds’ slim playoff hopes alive. I am riding with the Reds at -150.