The Cincinnati Reds (34-57, 18-28 home) hosts the St. Louis Cardinals (50-44, 21-24 away) in a three-game divisional series to begin the second half of the season. The two teams met right before the break, with the Cardinals winning a pair. St. Louis is 6-2 against Cincinnati this season.
Friday’s first pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. EST inside Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cardinals are the betting favorite at -155, and the over-under total is 10.0 runs.
What to Know – St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals built a two-way race in the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers over the first four months of play. The Cardinals sit just a half-game behind the Brewers and 11 games clear of Pittsburgh.
The 40-year-old Adam Wainwright (6-7, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) gets the ball to open the second half for St. Louis. Wainwright had a solid first half, although his record doesn’t show for it. In 111.0 of action, the veteran allowed 37 earned runs and 105 hits, issued 33 walks, and struck out 89.
All-Star Paul Goldschmidt was brilliant at the dish in the first half, slashing .330/.414/.590 with 20 home runs and 70 runs driven in over 90 games.
Nolan Arenado added 18 home runs and 59 RBIs, while the emergence of Juan Yepez at the plate has made the Cardinals’ offense one of the best in the majors.
On offense, the Cardinals score 4.6 runs per game thanks to a lineup that ranks eighth in the majors with a .251 batting average. The pitching staff for St. Louis boasts a 3.75 team earned run average, ninth in the MLB.
What to Know – Cincinnati Reds
It was a first half to forget for the rebuilding Reds, who find themselves 23-games under .500. Cincinnati is in last place in the NL Central, 15-games back of the leading Brewers.
Right-hander Graham Ashcraft (4-2, 4.45 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) gets the nod in the series opener for the hosts. Ashcraft faired well in his first starts in the majors, hurling 54.2 innings, surrendering 27 earned runs on 62 hits and 12 walks with 32 strikeouts. The rookie tries to pick up his first victory of the month.
Brandon Drury was a bright spot in the Reds lineup that lacks offensive firepower. Drury smacked 18 home runs, drove in 52 RBIs, and scored 56 runs. Kyle Farmer drove in 46 RBIs, and Tommy Pham hit 11 home runs.
The Cincinnati offense is 18th in the league, hitting .240 and averaging 4.3 runs per contest. The Reds pitching staff is the worst in the MLB, with a 5.30 team ERA.
The Pick is In
Two teams on different paths this season, the Cardinals are built to win now while the Reds are building for the future. Wainwright and company get the job done in the second-half opener and stay toe to toe with Milwaukee.
The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals ML