St. Louis, Mo – The St. Louis Cardinals (7-3) are set to host their second series of the year as the Cincinnati Reds (4-6) come to town. The Red Birds are currently 2-1 this season against the Reds. The last time the two teams met up was April 9th through April 11th in Cincinnati. This is a three game series that will span from April 17th through April 19th. Here are your stats and players to keep an eye on this series.
St. Louis Cardinals
Hot start once again: The Cardinals are off to their eighth, 7-3 start in 15 years. They have started their first ten games over .500 on 13 different occasions in that span; that’s 86.7% of the time.
Forget “Pujols Power”: Despite the lack of a certain, thou-who-shall-not-to-named, highly paid, power hitting first baseman, the Cardinals are tops in the league in every power hitting category. The Red Birds are tied for first in the league in homeruns (15), tied for seventh in doubles (18), second in triples (5), and are first in slugging percentage (.504). The Cardinals had six home runs in their last outing against the Reds. Five St. Louis based players went deep against Cincinnati in their last series; Freese had 2 long bombs while Holliday, Molina, Beltran, and Jay all hit one deep ball.
High average, More Runs: Top off those impressive power numbers with the fact that the Cardinals are currently hitting .299 as a team with a .359 on base percentage and the Cardinals offense is one of the most impressive lineups in the league at this point in the season. They sit at first in runs produced with 57 runs, six more runs than the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox who are each tied at 51 runs; it is important to note that the Indians have only played eight games as opposed to ten games by the Red Sox and Cardinals. The Cardinals have four, top 35 players in average; #5 Freese .406, #17(t2) Molina .353, #23 Jay, .344, and #33(t2) Beltran .325. All of these players are top 35 in hits as well; Furcal is added into this category with 12 hits in his 10 games, 41 at bats, and .293 average.
Player to Watch – Matt Carpenter: After an impressive Spring Training, Carpenter had an even more astonishing game against the Cubs on Sunday when he came up just a double shy of the cycle. He went 4-4 with a triple, homerun, and 5 RBI’s. He has at least one RBI in half of the eight games in which he has registered a plate appearance. While he is currently not able to qualify for a top spot in batting average, he is swinging .409 with a .417 OBP against opposing pitchers.
Key Factor – David Freese: Freese has picked up right where he left off in the NLCS and World Series. He is hitting .406 with 3 homeruns and 11 RBI’s in 8 games and 7 starts this season. The young third baseman has simply been dominant at the plate in his career against the Reds with a .333 average, 6 homeruns, and 16 RBI’s in 28 career games and 22 starts. Reduce that sample size to the 3 games, 2 starts, he has against the Reds this year and you get a .444 average in 10 plate appearances with a walk, 3 runs scored, 2 homeruns, and 4 RBI’s with a .500 OBP.
Size of a Marble: The Reds are ranked 27th in batting average as a team coming in at a lowly .205. They have just one player in the top 50 in batting average; Zack Cozart sits at 27th in the league with a .342 average. Cozart is the only player above .300 on the team and is just one of two players hitting over .250; Joey Votto is hitting .294.
Needing Glasses: The Reds top off that lovely team batting average with a large strikeout rate. The boys from Cincinnati have three players in the top 30 in strikeouts; #7 (t10) Stubbs 12, #17 (t11) Votto 11, and #28 (t14) Bruce 10. They are tied for the eighth most strikeouts as a team with the Diamondbacks and Athletics sitting at 76 swings and misses.
Mediocre Pitching: The lone saving grace for the Reds is their pitching which comes in with a 3.36 ERA in 95.0 innings. They are in the dead middle of the National League in ERA but are top five in overall earned runs at 39. Their pitchers sit at 10th in the NL with opponents’ batting .249.
Player to Watch – Scott Rolen: The former Cardinal is hitting .271 against his old team with 13 homeruns and 46 RBI’s in 78 games and 77 starts.
Key Factor – Aroldis Chapman: This power throwing right hander has only allowed 3 hits in 8 innings and has yet to let a run cross the plate under his watch. He actually leads the Reds in wins with 2 W’s in his 5 relief appearances. The Red Birds hit just .185 against him, but, with 7 runs scored on the young power leftie, they have scored more runs off of Chapman than any other Major League club.
Probable Starting Pitchers:
Tuesday, April 17.
Johnny Cueto v. Kyle Lohse
Wednesday, April 18.
Mat Latos v. Jamie Garcia
Thursday, April 19.
Bronson Arroyo v. Adam Wainright