The St. Louis Cardinals (7-4, 4-3 away) visit the Cincinnati Reds (2-11, 0-2 home) to begin a three-game National League Central series beginning on Friday evening. The two divisional rivals square off for the first of nineteen head-to-head battles this season.
Friday’s first pitch is at 6:40 p.m. EST at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH. The Cardinals (-130) are a road favorite, and the over-under run total is 8.5.
What to Know – St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis is at the end of a ten-game road stand with a series at Milwaukee and Miami prior. The Cardinals went 4-3 over that stretch and are currently tied for first with the Brewers atop the NL Central standings.
Left-hander Steven Matz takes the hill for the visitors (1-1, 7.27 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). The Cardinals signed Matz in the offseason after spending last season with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 30-year-old bounced back nicely in his previous start, hurling 5.2 innings of shutout baseball in a victory over the Brewers.
The Cardinals’ offense has a .235 team batting average and scores 4.5 runs per game. The pitching staff ranks eighth in the majors with a 3.09 team earned run average.
Nolan Arenado is an early candidate for NL MVP with five home runs and 14 runs driven in through the first 11 games. Arenado is hitting .405 at the dish (17-of-42) with a ridiculous .881 slugging percentage. Tommy Edman is also off to a hot start at the plate, batting .342 (13-of-38) with seven RBI.
What to Know – Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are off to a sluggish start as Cincinnati tries to rebuild their roster with an influx of young talent. Cincinnati’s tumbled to the bottom of the standings and is still searching for its first victory at home.
Trying to give the Reds that first home victory is rookie right-hander Hunter Greene (1-1, 4.35 ERA, 1.06 WHIP). After a solid spring, the 22-year-old hard-throwing starter earned his spot in the Reds’ rotation.
Greene held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two earned runs over 5.2 innings in his previous start.
Cincinnati’s April woes can be tied to an offense that is hitting just .177 as a team and last in the MLB, averaging 2.8 runs per game. The Reds’ pitching staff sports a 5.92 team ERA.
Shortstop Kyle Farmer has shined in a rather dull lineup over the first two weeks of action. The 31-year-old leads the Reds in hits (13), batting average (.289), and RBI (6). Outfielder Tommy Pham, who was picked up in the offseason from San Diego, is hitting just .158 in 38 at-bats to begin his time in Cincinnati.
Two teams off to opposite starts go toe-to-toe in Friday’s series opener. Cincinnati looks like a team in rebuild mode, while the Cardinals appear poised for a divisional title run and postseason appearance.
Cincinnati had success against left-handers in 2021, but most of that production is no longer in a Reds uniform. Look for both starters to limit the run production early on, but the Cardinals get the best of Cincinnati’s bullpen for a victory.
Betting Pick: St. Louis Cardinals ML