With their win last night, the Cardinals were able to even the series with the Reds with two games left to play. We’ll preview tonight’s matchup before going over why I’ll be targeting an F5 play for the action.
This series has already seen two high-scoring affairs, as a total of 13 runs were scored in last night’s game, with the Cardinals coming away with an 8-5 victory. St. Louis was powered by big days from Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman, as Goldschmidt left the yard twice, and Edman picked up a double and triple while driving in three runs. In total, the Cardinals racked up ten hits for the game while the Cardinals' bullpen held the Reds scoreless after the sixth inning.
Left-hander Steven Matz will get the ball for St. Louis tonight, as he will be making his tenth start of the season and is still searching for his first win. In 46.3 innings, Matz has pitched to a 5.05 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 18 walks. The lefty took a loss in his most recent out despite allowing just one unearned run and striking out six in 4 ⅔ innings.
Matz will face a Reds lineup that has scored a combined 11 runs in the first two games of this series. Cincinnati picked up nine hits yesterday, including five extra-base hits. Newly called-up infielder Matt McClain left the yard for his first career home run, which drove in three of the Reds' five runs in the game. Ultimately Cincinnati struggled to continue their production once they knocked Adam Wainwright out of the game.
The Reds will send Ben Lively to the hill tonight for his second start of the year. Lively has thrown 11 innings, but 5 ⅓ of them came out of relief. Across those 11 innings, the righty has a 2.45 ERA with ten strikeouts and one walk. In his first start of the season, against the Yankees, Lively went 5 ⅔ innings and allowed just two hits and two earned runs while striking out eight.
The Reds are listed as (+133) underdogs for the first five innings, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. Cincinnati is averaging the fifth most runs per game in the first five innings when playing at home, and they are averaging 3.33 runs over the first five in their last three games. The Reds have hit lefties well at home up to this point and have a pitcher with a lot of momentum on the mound as well.
Cincinnati is 8th in BAbip and 11th in wOBA against lefties at home, so they pose a tough matchup for the struggling lefty in Steven Matz. In 20.1 innings on the road, Matz has a 6.64 ERA, and in three of the first five innings this season, he has a 6.00 ERA or higher. Additionally, the lefty is in the 38th percentile in hard hit percentage, 22nd percentile in expected batting average, and 34th percentile in expected slugging percentage.
Conversely, the Cardinals average 2.38 runs per game in the first five innings on the road. They face a starter in Lively with an expected ERA of 2.06 and an expected wOBA of .226. The right-hander just shut down a stacked Yankees lineup and looks to have found something, as his CSW% is up to 30.2%.
Cincinnati Reds F5 (+133)