Over this past week, the Reds suddenly turned into one of the most exciting teams in baseball with the call-up of Elly De La Cruz. After beating winning their series over the Dodgers, the Reds will head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals, and we’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be backing the underdog in this one.
In the last ten games, the team with the worst record in the NL Central is the St. Louis Cardinals at 3-7. With their 1-0 win over the Rangers on Wednesday, the Cardinals were able to snap a five-game losing streak, but even with the win, the questions about their offense are still as prevalent as ever. Across those past ten games, the Cardinals have only scored more than three runs in just two of them, and if it wasn’t for an Alec Burleson solo home run Wednesday, who knows if the losing streak would’ve ended.
With the team searching for answers and looking to trend back in the right direction, they will send lefty Jordan Montgomery to the mound for his 13th start of the season. Montgomery has racked up 66 innings up to this point while pitching to a 4.23 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 18 walks. The left-hander took the loss in his most recent outing against the Pirates as he allowed four runs (one earned) across 5 ⅔ innings.
Montgomery pitched against the Reds recently on May 22nd and took a no-decision, but the lineup he will face tonight has a lot more firepower. Cincinnati may have been held scoreless yesterday afternoon, but in their first two games against the Dodgers following the call-up of De La Cruz, they scored a combined 17 runs and won both games on walk-offs.
Getting the ball for Cincinnati tonight will be the right-hander Ben Lively. In four starts and two relief outings, Lively has thrown a total of 29.7 innings in which he has a 3.03 ERA with 29 strikeouts and eight walks. Lively pitched against St. Louis on May 24th and got a win as he went six innings with eight strikeouts and two earned runs allowed.
With their recent struggles, I can’t imagine the exciting youth movement Reds coming to town is ideal for the Cardinals. That said, for my play in this one, I’ll be taking the Reds moneyline, which is currently priced at (+150). Even before their exciting roster changes, the Reds had been swinging the bat well on the road, while the Cardinals have struggled to put runs on the board no matter where they’re playing.
Over the past month, the Reds rank 7th in wRC+, wOBA, and OPS against left-handed pitching on the road. The last time the Reds faced Montgomery, they racked up seven hits in four innings, which resulted in four runs. Montgomery enters tonight in the 28th percentile in expected batting average and 30th percentile in expected slugging. The lefty has also struggled at home this season, putting up a 5.74 ERA in 26.2 innings.
The Cardinals offense is in the opposite boat when it comes to offense at the moment as they are 22nd in wRC+, 24th in wOBA, and 26th in OPS against right-handed pitching at home over the last month. Not only did Ben Lively succeed against them the last time he faced them, but he is in the 56th percentile in expected batting average and has an opponent batting average of .179 on the road this season.
Cincinnati Reds (+150)