Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

The Reds remain at Great American Ball Park this weekend for a three game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Just a year removed from winning the NL Central, the Cardinals currently sit in the basement at 61-78. The Reds have played the Cardinals 7 times so far this season, going 4-3. They’ll also meet again in the final series of the year, with the Reds traveling to St. Louis.

The Reds entered their off day on Thursday sitting a half game back of the Marlins for the third Wild Card spot, and tied with the Diamondbacks. Both Arizona and Miami played Thursday, providing a chance for the Reds to gain or lose ground without playing a game. Their situation remains essentially the same going into Friday, with the Diamondbacks and Marlins swapping positions after their games on Thursday.

Offense

The Cardinals rank 8th in the Majors with a 108 wRC+ this season, and 11th in the second half with a 110 wRC+.

Here are the Cardinals’ second half offensive stats for all hitters with at least 50 plate appearances.

Image: FanGraphs

The Cardinals have seen ten hitters post an above average wRC+ in the second half, with four of those posting over a 130 wRC+.

Notably, their two biggest “stars” in Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have actually been among their worst hitters in the second half, though neither has been particularly bad. By comparison, Goldschmidt would tie for third in wRC+ among Reds hitters in the second half, as shown below.

Image: FanGraphs

Pitching

The Reds will unfortunately not get to face the struggling Adam Wainwright, who pitched on Thursday. However, they won’t exactly be greeted by stellar starting pitching. The Cardinals’ rotation ranks near the bottom of the league in ERA and xFIP this season, though FIP has them more in the middle of the pack. Here are the matchups for this weekend’s series:

Friday: Andrew Abbott (L) vs. Drew Rom (L)

Saturday: Carson Spiers vs. Zack Thompson (L)

Sunday: Hunter Greene vs. Miles Mikolas

The Reds will see LHP on Friday and Saturday, likely meaning we will see a different look from the lineup. Harrison Bader, Hunter Renfroe, Nick Senzel, and Stuart Fairchild will likely draw starts while some of the left handed hitters get some rest.

Sunday’s starter Miles Mikolas brings some of the most interesting and confusing splits in baseball. He inexplicably seems to be a completely different pitcher on regular four days rest, as compared to when he pitches on extra rest. Here’s a look at what he’s done this season based on rest, continuing a trend he’s shown throughout his whole career as a starter, though to a more extreme level this season.

Images: Baseball Reference

While the splits may ultimately mean nothing, they’re still interesting and there seems to be a large enough sample size across multiple seasons to acknowledge that there may in fact be a reason behind it. The Reds will unfortunately catch Mikolas on the regular four days of rest this weekend.

The Cardinals’ bullpen has ranked in the bottom third of the league in the second half in ERA, while ranking in the middle third in both FIP and xFIP. Having traded away many of the familiar names, the Cardinals now seem to rely more on Drew VerHagen and JoJo Romero in higher leverage roles, though Romero just went on the IL this week and will miss this series.

Outlook

The Reds will look to capitalize on facing a last place team to help their position in the Wild Card race. They have the weakest schedule of the teams in the hunt going forward, with three games in Minnesota being the only games remaining against teams currently above .500. Still, despite the easy schedule, the Reds will have to play their best to capitalize on those matchups and win enough games to give them a shot at getting in. It’s not hard to imagine them doing so, but for such a young and inexperienced team, anything could happen going forward.

Featured Image: Link

Kyle Berger

Kyle Berger is a lifelong Reds fan who has lived in the Cincinnati area for his entire life. Kyle has always been interested in the analytics side of baseball, and recently graduated from Miami University with a degree in Business Analytics. You can follow him on Twitter @KB_48, where most of his Tweets are about the Reds or baseball in general.