The Reds (41-52) will try to turn around their fortunes this season against the St. Louis Cardinals (47-44) with a weekend series at Busch Stadium. First pitch for tonight’s game is 8:15 ET.
The Reds last faced the Cardinals at GABP one month ago and snapped a 13-game losing streak to St. Louis dating back to 2017. In 2018, the Reds are 1-9 against the Cardinals and it’s been the pitching that has struggled against St. Louis, as Reds pitchers have allowed 60 runs off Cardinals hitters.
The Cardinals come into this series seven games behind the Brewers in the NL Central, but trying to stay above .500 and in the wild card hunt. They come into this series with a .717 team OPS, good for eighth in the National League. For comparison, the Reds are fifth in the NL with a .742 team OPS. The Cardinals’ strength has been pitching this season. With a team ERA of 3.74, St. Louis pitchers rank fifth in the NL. Two of the four teams ahead of them are also ahead of them in the NL Central standings, which shows you how good the division has been.
I don’t think tonight will be Matt Harvey’s last start in a Reds uniform as the rotation after the All-Star break will be set up to get him one more start, but his time pitching for this team is nearing the end. It makes it all the more imperative that he pitches as well as possible so as to maximize whatever trade value he’s gained (and he has gained a fair amount). I, like so many fans, doubted what the Reds were doing when they traded for him, but it has turned into a good decision, and now Dick Williams needs to complete it with a nice trade after the break.
Harvey’s last start at Wrigley Field wasn’t as impressive as his start against the Brewers 11 days ago in which only rain stopped him, but it wasn’t terrible. Yes, he gave up nine hits, but allowed only three runs, two of them earned, in 5.2 innings. He also walked one and struck out four.
In 11 starts with the Reds, Harvey has a respectable 3.79 ERA. While he has given up seven home runs, he’s struck out 44 batters and walked only 13. His walk and strikeout totals aren’t near to what he was doing at the height of his career, but they are definitely better than his April numbers with the Mets. Harvey’s fastball velocity isn’t quite back to normal either, but it’s at 94.9 with the Reds, a 1.8 point difference than with the Mets. And as long as he locates it, it’s one reason for his turnaround.
Here are Harvey’s career stats against the Cardinals. Watch out for Jose Martinez, as he’s hit two home runs off Harvey in only four at-bats.
Save for a few starts, Carlos Martinez has been solid for the Cardinals this season. In his last start, he went seven innings against the San Francisco Giants, allowing only one run on six hits and walking none. His three strikeouts were a bit low for him, as he’s more of a strikeout pitcher. This season he’s had 83 strikeouts in 85.1 innings, and he has surpassed the 200 strikeout mark in recent history. If you’re looking for good news, Martinez’s last start against the Reds did not go well. He didn’t last past the third inning, giving up five earned runs and walking seven batters.
Martinez is primarily a four pitch pitcher, but added a cutter to his repertoire this season. He very rarely throws a curveball, but has managed to increase his use of it in 2018, even with adding the cutter.
Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez have had the most success off Martinez, while Joey Votto does not hit him well at all.
With an off day yesterday for both teams, it should be a full go for everyone in both bullpens. Jackson Stephens might be the lone holdout since he pitched three innings Wednesday night.
|1. Jose Peraza (SS)
2. Scooter Gennett (2B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
5. Jesse Winker (RF)
6. Tucker Barnhart (C)
7. Adam Duvall (LF)
8. Matt Harvey (P)
9. Billy Hamilton (CF)
|1. Matt Carpenter (1B)
2. Paul DeJong (SS)
3. Jose Martinez (RF)
4. Marcell Ozuna (LF)
5. Yadier Molina (C)
6. Jedd Gyorko (3B)
7. Tommy Pham (CF)
8. Kolten Wong (2B)
9. Carlos Martinez (P)
News, Notes, and Pregame Reading
-After Tanner Rainey’s performance against the Indians on Wednesday, he’s back at Triple-A Louisville.
#reds optioned reliever Tanner Rainey and recalled reliever Austin Brice from Louisville
— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) July 13, 2018
-If you’re a subscriber of the Athletic, there’s a great read from C. Trent Rosecrans on Matt Harvey fitting in just fine with the Reds these last two months.
The @Reds didn't have to worry about Matt Harvey's reputation when they acquired him. They were already out of contention and knew they'd trade him. But @ctrent explains that Harvey has fit in and has defied the negative murmurs that preceded him. https://t.co/Rcz9kyIRZb
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCIN) July 12, 2018
-First round draft pick Jonathan India hit his first professional home run last night for the Greeneville Reds.
— Greeneville Reds (@GvilleReds) July 12, 2018
-Hernan Iribarren passed a Reds fan favorite on the all-time hits list in Louisville last night.
Hernan Iribarren picks up career hit 417 to pass Corky Miller for fifth place all-time in Louisville Bats history. pic.twitter.com/LjPDrd4ZZ4
— Louisville Bats (@LouisvilleBats) July 13, 2018
As I was perusing Baseball Reference last night, I came across the Reds’ month-by-month win-loss record for 2018 and I realized that if the Reds hadn’t had such a terrible April, they would be right in the middle of the wild card hunt. In April, the Reds went 8-20. In the three months since, they have a record of 34-30. Even if four of the losses had been wins and they finished April with an 11-15 record, the Reds would have a 45-46 record, and would be tied with the Washington Nationals, only five games back for the second wild card spot.
But that’s why we can’t play the “what-if” game. It would drive everyone crazy. Unfortunately, we can’t rewrite history. So, just enjoy the ride the Reds are on now (with the exception of last night’s game) and hope for great things in the future. It looks bright.
*All stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.