After a long stretch of eight games at home, the Reds are traveling to St. Louis to seek a divisional series win against a very good Cardinals team. The task does not get any easier as they will be without catcher Tyler Stephenson, who suffered a fractured thumb in the series finale yesterday.
Cincinnati Reds Record 20-37
St. Louis Cardinals Record 32-26
Luis Castillo 3.55 ERA vs Andre Pallante 1.23 ERA
Hunter Greene 5.40 ERA vs Adam Wainwright 2.73 ERA
Graham Ashcraft 1.14 ERA vs. Dakota Hudson 2.76 ERA
What to watch for:
Both starting and relief pitching
Yes the Cardinals are very good but if the Reds were allowed to hand pick their three starters for this series, it would be the three that are going. Both Luis Castillo and Hunter Greene are well known but so far Graham Ashcraft has been lights out. This will be Ashcraft’s first start against the division rival and arguably his biggest test yet. Even though the Reds will need all three to perform well, they will also need the bullpen to pitch well. They had the last series in their hand before the bullpen blew the game causing them to only split the series.
What catcher will step up
We have seen the Reds get great production from unlikely sources before, and they’re going to need it again. There is no one who can replace Tyler Stephenson but the Reds have to try. Backup catcher Aramis Garcis, who dominated in spring training, will more than likely see the majority of playing time. The Reds also will be calling up catcher Chris Okey to make his MLB debut. Okey has enjoyed a solid year in AAA, hitting .265.
Keys to a series win
The focus for this series has to be on the bullpen. The Reds have received production from their starters lately only for the bullpen to blow it. Yes, the offense will need to be good but it’s hard to expect much without Tyler Stephenson. The focus sits on the bullpen mainly because I think the starters will perform well enough to keep the Reds in the game even with little production form the offense, if this is the case the Bullpen will need to continue that trend if the Reds want any hope.
It is very difficult to see the Reds playing well in their first series without Stephenson. I think the offense is almost guaranteed to struggle but sometimes it doesn’t matter. I think the Reds will take one of these three games due to an amazing outing from one of the starting pitchers. It is hard enough to beat the Cardinals already, but it’s even harder without one of your best players