The Cincinnati Reds (66-84) will try to spoil any postseason chances the St. Louis Cardinals (77-72) have at Great American Ball Park over the next three days.
After taking two of three from the Reds in St. Louis last week, the Cardinals ran into a proverbial brick wall over the weekend, as the Cubs swept the three-game series in Chicago and put the Cardinals six games behind the defending World Series champions in the NL Central.
The Reds have played well against the Cardinals this season, winning nine of 16 games against them. It’s a battle of rookie pitchers tonight as Jackson Stephens and Jack Flaherty match up in the first game. First pitch is at 7:10 ET.
This is the first start for Stephens since he joined the rotation when Tyler Mahle was shut down last week. Stephens’ lone start at the major league level came in early July when he made his debut against the Cubs. He pitched five innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while striking out eight and walking one.
Stephens was recalled when rosters expanded at the beginning of September, and has been pitching out of the bullpen since. He’s pitched 6.1 innings, most recently against these Cardinals in St. Louis. On September 14, he pitched three innings of two-hit, shut-out baseball with one strikeout. Tommy Pham and Harrison Bader were the only two Cardinals to get hits off him.
In his limited time at the major league level, Stephens has been impressive, striking out 11 in 11 innings pitched and walking very few batters. But luck could also have played a role in his success. Stephens’ BABIP is .222 in the big leagues, and his fly ball percentage is at 51%. If he keeps giving up fly balls at that rate, his stats might look a little different. At Triple A-Louisville this season, Stephens had some of the same troubles, giving up 16 home runs in 139.0 innings.
Flaherty, the Cardinals’ #3 prospect according to Baseball America’s mid-season Top 10, was called up on September 1 and made his MLB debut the same day, giving up five runs on eight hits in just four innings against the San Francisco Giants. Two starts later, Flaherty faced the Reds, and pitched 4.1 innings, giving up four hits and three runs, including a lead-off home run to Jesse Winker, while walking two and striking out three.
Flaherty was the Cardinals’ first round draft selection in 2014 and is only 21 years old. While his first three starts at the major league level haven’t been eye-opening, he has pitched excellently in the minors this year, posting a 1.42 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 11 walks in 63.1 innings at Double-A this year. He struggled to adjust to Triple-A hitters when he was promoted, but still posted a 2.74 ERA in 85.1 innings. His biggest issue at Triple-A was the home run ball, where he gave up 10.
Both teams were off Monday, so everyone should be available.
|1. Kolten Wong (2B)
2. Tommy Pham (LF)
3. Dexter Fowler (CF)
4. Jose Martinez (1B)
5. Yadier Molina (C)
6. Paul DeJong (SS)
7. Jedd Gyorko (3B)
8. Stephen Piscotty (RF)
9. Jack Flaherty (P)
|1. Jesse Winker (RF)
2. Zack Cozart (SS)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Scooter Gennett (2B)
5. Adam Duvall (LF)
6. Scott Schebler (CF)
7. Patrick Kivlehan (3B)
8. Stuart Turner (C)
9. Jackson Stephens (P)
-Eugenio Suarez gets a day off tonight.
-Joey Votto is at it again. He’s now reached base in 20 consecutive games.
-Adam Duvall, on the other hand, has not been good. In the second half, he is hitting just .204/.258/.557, with an OPS of .645. Bryan Price has tried moving him down in the lineup (though not for tonight’s game) to take some pressure off him, but there hasn’t been much change yet.
Stat of the Day
Don’t forget about Zack Cozart, who currently has 22 home runs. If he gets hot in the last two weeks of the season, this list could grow.
The Reds offense has not been the problem in 2017, and all of the home runs are a reason why the Reds have been exciting to watch at times.
News and Notes
-Big roster moves happening at 100 Joe Nuxhall Way today.
-The Reds will wear the camo jerseys one last time this season during tonight’s game.
-Price should stick with his starters, at least for the St. Louis series. It would be fun to watch this series be the death of the Cardinals’ playoff hopes.
-Chad has another edition of Reds player power rankings over at Cincinnati Magazine:
The Reds are on quite the roll at GABP. Since August 31, they have won every home game. That’s a seven game winning streak, for those who are counting. With six home games left, the Reds are 39-36. They would need to go at least 2-4 to finish the season with a winning record at home. In 2016, the Reds went 38-43 at GABP, so they’ve already improved from a year ago. Next step is to be above .500 for the season. It’s very possible, and I think the Reds can get more than two wins in the next six games.