The Cincinnati Reds visit the St. Louis Cardinals Monday for the beginning of a three-game set. The Reds are coming off a lost weekend in Denver, where the Colorado Rockies won three of their four games together. Sunday was especially exasperating for the club and its fans, as they surrendered 20 runs (10 in each game), and were swept in a doubleheader prompted by a water main break near the stadium early Saturday morning.
The Cincinnati Reds have been depleted by injuries, and it’s all hands on deck. The latest loss was starter Homer Bailey, who was placed on the disabled list Saturday with a strained right flexor mass tendon. Todd Frazier, usually the third baseman, missed the Rockies series with lower back pain. Lineups had not been posted as of this writing; Frazier is due back any time now, as is second baseman Brandon Phillips, who went out in early July for surgery on his left thumb. Joey Votto is recovering from a distal left quadriceps strain, and will miss the Cardinals series.
Devin Mesoraco carries a .924 OPS into the Cardinals series. Mesoraco, a masher of stray fastballs, has 20 home runs in 84 games played. Billy Hamilton‘s OPS is .697. Hamilton has stolen 45 bases, but he’s been caught 18 times, for a 71 percent success rate. It’s not great, for the fastest man in the game.
The Cincinnati Reds’ bench has been exposed. Guys such as Jack Hannahan, Ramon Santiago, Kristopher Negron, and Brayan Pena are regularly playing out of position or are playing too much, due to the absences of Phillips, Frazier (recently), and Votto. For instance, with Frazier out–who had been playing some first base–Pena started both games Sunday at first. Negron played third in the first game. Skip Schumaker played second. In the second game, Negron went from third to second, and Santiago manned third. The Reds get very little offense out of their entire infield.
Ryan Ludwick will get his cheers this week, and could do damage. Somehow, Chris Heisey finds a way to assert himself in games with the Cardinals. Jay Bruce always is a threat, though he’s having a rough season.
The Cincinnati Reds send Mike Leake, 9-11, 3.59 ERA to the mound Monday. He’s a valuable pitcher, and likely the best-hitting pitcher in the league. Masterson will have to work him carefully. The Cardinals will start Justin Masterson, 6-7, 5.58 ERA. The rest of the pairings should be Alfredo Simon–John Lackey on Tuesday, and in the matinee Wednesday, Johnny Cueto–Lance Lynn.
The Milwaukee Brewers swept the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend, and do not play Monday. The Pirates are at home to take on the Braves. There’s no time like the present to pick up ground on the Brewers, who are three games up in the standings, four in the wins column.