The first place Cincinnati Reds are coming home to play one of their biggest 3-game series in over a decade as they play host to the second place St. Louis Cardinals. They haven’t opened a home series against a 2nd place team with this narrow of a lead on August 8th or later since 1961.

With the weekend sweep of the Chicago Cubs, the Reds now have a 2 game lead in the NL Central division. This is the Cardinals last regular season trip to Cincinnati, and the second-to-last series between the two squads. The Reds are 5-7 against the Cardinals so far this year, after splitting the 16 games played last year.

The Reds hold a 33-23 record (.589) in the friendly confines of GABP this season, while the Cardinals have struggled on the road with a 23-31 record (.426.) Cincinnati has built significant momentum heading into the series. They’ve won 4 games in a row, 7 of their last 8, and 11 of their last 15. The Cardinals have a 7-8 record over their last 15 games.

All that goes out the window tonight, as the Cardinals have lined up their top rotation strength to face the Redlegs. Pitching matchups for the series:

    Chris Carpenter (12-3, 2.91) vs. Mike Leake (7-3, 3.86)
    Jamie Garcia (9-5, 2.53) vs. Johnny Cueto (11-2, 3.24)
    Adam Wainwright (16-6, 2.07) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-6, 3.83)

Although the Cardinals boast the pocket aces, the Reds have better overall rotation and pitching depth. A key for them will be to get into the St Louis bullpen. Tony LaRussa was quoted as saying his bullpen was “on fumes” heading into the off-day, and unfortunately for the Reds, they got plenty of rest over the weekend. The Cardinals bullpen was only called on to pitch once in the past 4 days.

Bullpen stats since the all-star break

    Cardinals bullpen: 4.64 ERA, 1.516 WHIP, .268 Opp AVG, .751 Opp OPS
    Reds bullpen: 2.06 ERA, 1.005 WHIP, .168 Opp AVG, .536 Opp OPS

Both teams are coming into play with relatively full-strength rosters. The Cardinals are without David Freese for the rest of the season. He has been replaced by Felipe Lopez most nights, who is normally found in the leadoff spot. Skip Schumaker was rested from the Marlins series with a sore wrist and is expected to play. Reds Spring Training-invitee Aaron Miles, is the Cardinals primary backup at 2nd, shortstop, and 3rd base.

The Reds are without opening day SS Orlando Cabrera. Paul Janish has been filling in quite well on both sides of the baseball in Cabrera’s absence. Brandon Phillips sat out yesterday’s game with a sore shin but is also expected back today.

The Reds are currently deeper on the bench, too. Every batter on the Reds bench has an OPS+ over 100. With Cardinals SS Tyler Greene on the DL, and outfielder John Jay thrust into an everyday role, the Cardinals have no players on the bench with an OPS+ over 100.

The typical regulars/lineups we may see for this series include the top two candidates for NL MVP playing first base and batting 3rd for their respective teams:

Pos Player AVG OBP SLG Pos Player AVG OBP SLG
3B Lopez 0.259 0.337 0.382 2B Phillips 0.287 0.342 0.461
RF Jay 0.371 0.417 0.553 SS Janish 0.301 0.383 0.446
1B Pujols 0.311 0.404 0.580 1B Votto 0.319 0.421 0.603
LF Holliday 0.298 0.374 0.528 3B Rolen 0.301 0.370 0.550
CF Rasmus 0.275 0.351 0.511 LF Gomes 0.272 0.330 0.450
C Molina 0.249 0.324 0.320 RF Bruce 0.258 0.326 0.411
2B Schumaker 0.257 0.325 0.331 CF Stubbs 0.234 0.300 0.405
P Carpenter 0.128 0.163 0.128 C Hanigan 0.296 0.392 0.424
SS Ryan 0.223 0.285 0.305 P Leake 0.357 0.438 0.381

Are you ready for some baseball?

Join the conversation! 33 Comments

  1. I’ll be at GABP tonight. Section 120.

    The pressure is all on the Cardinals to sweep. If the Reds even win one of three, they’ll still be in first place.

    Go Reds!

  2. Heaven help us if the balls aren’t rubbed up properly!!

  3. If the series gets split in either direction, it’s kind of meaningless at the end of the day. A 3 game swing is one thing, but a one game swing in the 2nd week of August is kind of not much.

  4. That said, if the Reds can sweep the series, I think their odds of winning the division go up to like 70%. So it’s definitely got the potential to be huge for them.

  5. If the Cards sweep the Reds, there is absolutely no effect, the Reds are simply a game back with over a month to go.

    As an aside, Ramon Hernandez’s option cannot possibly vest at this point.

  6. I will be there on Tuesday right behind the first base dugout. It’s expected to be a sellout for all three games which would make the attendance go as high as it has never been. Go Reds!!! Beat the Cardinals!!!!!!!!!!!!! Win the division!!!!!!!!!

  7. @ David: Huh?!

    If the Reds get swept in this series they will be a game back with 3 games yet to play in St. Louis, most likely to face their best three, yet again. The Cardinals are 38-18 at home.

    Losing all three in this series would not be good. With the remaining remaining schedule, excepting any big injuries, these teams are going to be neck-and-neck down the stretch.

  8. Greg: Have you heard that Stubbs will be playing CF (instead of Heisey)?

  9. @ Truman48: If the Reds are swept, they sit a game back. After this series, the Reds have 47 more games. That means that the Reds would have to make up one game in 47. What’s difficult to understand about that? The worst case scenario for the Reds is relatively insignificant.

  10. Technically, the Reds have played 2 more games than the Cardinals, so their +2 in the standings is really at worst +1 (if the Cards win both of those games) and at best +3 (if the Cardinals lose both of those games.) If the Cards sweep, that moves the range up +0 to +2.

    @Chris: No, I haven’t heard that Stubbs or Heisey will be getting the CF start. If Heisey plays, he might bat 2nd. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Dickerson comes up for Stubbs before the game tonight, and he starts vs. the RH pitchers. That would make my list of “regulars/lineups” look a little off, but it is probably conservative offensive expectation from that CF spot to use the worst performing player.

    I was just making a guess that if the 25-man stays intact, that Baker goes with Stubbs speed/defense. The other guess on my part was that Hanigan catches two of the three games (Leake and Arroyo.) That’s what I would do. I’m not going to be surprised, though, if it is Hernandez tonight and Tues, and Hanigan on Wednesday.

  11. I’ve been thinking of the 1961 pennant race all week, when the upstart Reds beat the heavily favored Dodgers in a classic 2 team pennant race.

    The Reds co-closer, Jim Brosnan, wrote a book about it: Pennant Race.

  12. I loved to see the Reds do some damage to Carpenter and Wainwright this time around. Those two guys have just owned the Reds.

  13. The Reds beat Adam Wainwright the last time he pitched at GABP on May 15. He gave up 4ER on 7H and 3BB in 6 innings. Mike Leake outpitched him.

    The Reds held on as Coco Cordero gave up three hits and a run in the ninth inning before recording the save.

    Wainwright has a losing record (5-6) on the road. His K/BB is 2.89 away from home vs. 5.07 at home. And his ERA is more than double on the road.

  14. I agree with the statements that, unless there’s a sweep, the series won’t alter the landscape too much.

    But a sweep by either team would be most definitely have an impact on the outcome of this race. A sweep either puts the Reds 5 games up or 1 game down. One game down doesn’t sound so bad, but remember that we’re playing this series at home, the remaining 3 will be played at St. Louis, where the Cards play much better.

    Also we have a 9 game West Coast road trip coming up, the Cards have no more West Coast series.

  15. Steve: Yes I believe we can beat Wainwright in Cincy. Carpenter is more dangerous.

    I don’t like tonite’s matchup. And if we lose tonite, the pressure is on us to win at least one of the remaining two.

  16. “The Reds held on as Coco Cordero gave up three hits and a run in the ninth inning before recording the save.”

    This is a recording.

  17. Reds aquire Jim Edmonds! Didn’t see this coming!

  18. Reds acquire Edmonds for Chris Dickerson. Whoa!

  19. I would assume this means that Nix gets DFA. He deserved better. Edmonds isn’t much of an upgrade IMO.

  20. Wainwright’s career starts against the Reds

    3 GS in 2007, 1-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.62 WHIP
    0 GS in 2008
    1 GS in 2009, 0-0, 6.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
    2 GS in 2010, 1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

    It looks like only 1 of his 6 starts was a “quality start.”

    His career line as a starter
    110 GS, 60-29, 2.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

  21. My favorite thing about getting Edmonds is that I won’t have to see him kill the Reds anymore.

  22. Hope he can kill some Cardinals.

  23. The Edmonds deal is shocking to say the least. I’m not saying I dislike it, I just don’t understand. I liked Dickerson, but he was a problem from an injury point of view. Maybe he’s just cleaning up the 40 man to clear up space for Grandal and after Sutton they didn’t want to expose anyone else. Dickerson was just the odd man out and they were able to get a little something for him. It’s all I can think of.

  24. So, now it might be Edmonds in for a couple of games in CF? Edmonds for Dickerson. Well, I think the Reds gave up long-term talent for another short-term ex-Cardinal, but did anyone really expect Dickerson to remain healthy between now and the end of the Reds season?

    Dickerson didn’t figure into the Reds outfield plans next year, so it is probably a trade worth happening for the pennant stretch. He has hitting righties pretty good this year (.293/.358/.500)

  25. I like the trade, but am interested to see what happens with the roster. Jocketty loves his ex-Cards.

    Ready to get this series started, and trying to clean up here in the office to possibly head out to the yard on Wednesday.

  26. I don’t mind swapping Edmonds for Dickerson but I do hate that Nix gets screwed. He’ll be DFA to make room on the 25-man roster. He has been part of this great season and played solid ball. I don’t think a 40-year-old Edmonds is an upgrade over him.

  27. I’m with Y-City Jim, I don’t like DFAing Nix for Edmonds, if that’s what happens.

  28. “I’m with Y-City Jim, I don’t like DFAing Nix for Edmonds, if that’s what happens.”

    Ditto. Not in love with Nix, but his upside at this point in their respective careers has to be a little better.

  29. If Edmonds can deliver some solid hitting (hopefully mostly as a PH) this COULD be a significant pick-up. Time will tell.

  30. If I am Dusty my mind set is game 2, with Garcia really struggling right now and i believe Cueto going in that game, my attitude is we win that one and wins in either of the other two are gravey.

  31. […] Cardinals at Reds August Series Preview […]

  32. Agree. Win on Tuesday and hope you take 1 of the other 2.

  33. […] Nation – Cardinals at Reds August Series Preview Although the Cardinals boast the pocket aces, the Reds have better overall rotation and pitching […]

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