The St. Louis Cardinals (66-63, 31-33 away) begin a three-game National League Central series on the road against the Cincinnati Reds (71-61, 36-29) with major playoff implications. Currently, the Reds sit in the second wild card spot, 3.5 games ahead of the Cardinals.
Monday night’s first pitch is 6:40 p.m. EST at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH. The Reds are the favorites (-180), and the run total over/under is at 9.
What to Know – St. Louis Cardinal
The St. Louis Cardinals split a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend and now transition to a pivotal week that includes a weekend series against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. St. Louis is in third place in the NL Central, trailing the Brewers and Reds.
Veteran left-hander Jon Lester (4-6, 5.27 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) takes the mound of the visitors. Lester began the season with the Washington Nationals before being traded to St. Louis prior to the trade deadline. The 37-year old has been shaky since joining the Cardinals’ rotation but is coming off a solid outing (5.0 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 2 BBs, 4 Ks) in his last trip to the mound.
Offensively, St. Louis ranks 19th in on-base (.312) and 23rd in the slugging (.395), averaging 4.1 runs per game. Third baseman Nolan Arenado leads the Cardinals’ offense in both home runs (26) and runs batted in (84) after being traded to the team in the offseason. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is right behind Arenado with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs.
What to Know – Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds limp into Monday’s game on the heels of a two-game losing streak with a 2-4 record over their last six games. The Reds are second in the NL Central, 8.5 games behind the Brewers.
The expected starter for the Reds is right-hander Luis Castillo (7-13, 4.29 ERA, 1.38 WHIP). Castillo’s had an up and down season on the mound that included all six of his starts in May. The 28-year old hurled 6.1 innings in his last start, surrendering two earned runs on four hits, two walks, with six strikeouts.
The Reds offense is one of the most productive in the majors, ranking sixth in on-base (.331) and fifth in slugging (.433) while scoring 4.9 runs per game. Veteran first baseman Joey Votto has had a resurgence at the plate, leading the Reds with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs. Third baseman Jonathan India is the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year, batting .272 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs.
The Pick is In
A huge series begins Monday night between these two NL Central foes, with both squads needing to take home a victory. Neither of these pitchers has had their best stuff this season, and these offenses will take advantage.
This will be the first time Lester will face the Reds lineup this season, while Castillo has taken on the Cardinals four times with a mixed bag of results. With playoff chances hanging in the balance, expect these both lineups to score a handful of runs and push this run total into the double-digits.
The Pick: Cardinals/Reds OVER 9