MLB Weekend Preview: Reds at Cardinals
The Cincinnati Reds (10-14) and the St. Louis Cardinals (15-9) meet at Busch Stadium for a three-game NL Central showdown. Here's what bettors should be watching for throughout the series.
Friday, 8:15 p.m. ETAnthony DeSclafani (0-1, 5.59 ERA) (CIN) +130 / +1.5 runs (-150) / Over eight runs (-110) Miles Mikolas (2-1, 4.97 ERA) (STL) -145 / -1.5 runs (+125) / Under eight runs (-110)
Miles Mikolas' pitch-to-contact style plays well at Busch Stadium, so the Cardinals appear poised to take the series opener against the struggling Anthony DeSclafani.
Mikolas, 2-0 in three starts against the Reds last year with a 2.50 ERA, went 8-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 16 starts at home last season. His strikeout/walk ratio is down sharply from his 5.03 mark in 2018, but Mikolas will face a Cincinnati lineup that has drawn the sixth-fewest free passes in the majors so far (71).
DeSclafani has terrible numbers against some of St. Louis' best hitters, including first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (8-for-13), third baseman Matt Carpenter (9-for-22) and left fielder Marcell Ozuna (5-for-14). The trio has tallied five home runs and 11 RBIs against DeSclafani.
MLB Free Play: Cardinals moneyline
Saturday, 2:15 p.m. ETAssuming the forecasted morning rain showers don't linger, two shaky starters will meet in Saturday afternoon's tilt, as Tyler Mahle (0-2, 3.52 ERA) gets the ball for Cincinnati against St. Louis' Dakota Hudson (1-1, 5.89 ERA).
Mahle (8-13, 4.47 ERA, 1.53 WHIP lifetime) regressed to the mean after a sharp first two starts of 2019 (one run in 11 innings), surrendering eight runs on 18 hits in 12 innings of work. Hudson, a converted reliever, has a 2.07 WHIP on the season and an opponent batting average of .321.
Despite these numbers, the Over is not an automatic play. The Cardinals' bullpen boasts the third-best ERA in the majors (3.36), with the Reds' relievers close behind in the fourth (3.38). Bettors would be wise to look toward the Over in the first five innings instead.
Sunday, 2:15 p.m. ETThe series finale features Cincinnati's Sonny Gray (0-3, 3.65 ERA) and St. Louis' Jack Flaherty (2-1, 5.25 ERA) on the bump.
Gray has been on a tight leash for the Reds through five starts, as he has pitched beyond the sixth inning just once and hasn’t tallied more than 88 pitches in a game. That's not to say he's performed poorly. Gray's batting average against is .200 and his SO/W ratio is 5.17.
Flaherty has been rocked in two starts at Milwaukee this season, but he's been hard for opposing hitters to figure out at home. He's struck out 24 and walked just three through 17 innings, while allowing a .190 batting average against. Jose Peraza (4-for-8) and Joey Votto (2-for-4, three walks) have given Flaherty some trouble in the past, but Peraza is currently hitting .157, while Votto is at .219 entering Friday’s play.