Photo is credited to Getty Images.
On Monday night, the Reds and Cardinals will begin a four-game series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis that figures to play wonders in the National League Wild Card race.
As play commences on the final Monday of the regular season, the Cardinals are a half-game removed from the second Wild Card spot and a full game behind the Mets, who hold the first. The Giants are off on Monday, and with a win, the Cardinals could tie San Francisco for that coveted second spot.
The Cardinals will be without shortstop Aledmys Diaz for at least a fraction of this series, as he has traveled to Miami to be with the family of the late Jose Fernandez. At 24 years old, Fernandez, a right-handed starting pitcher for the Marlins, was killed in a boat accident on Sunday morning. Diaz, 26, grew up with Fernandez in the Cuban neighborhood of Santa Clara, where the future All-Stars began their studded baseball careers.
In the first game of the series, Jaime Garcia will pitch for the Cardinals. Garcia has served as a long reliever out of the bullpen since lasting under two innings in his September 13 start. Over his last seven games, including two relief appearances, Garcia has a 6.99 ERA and pitched to just a 1.55 WHIP in the span. Luke Weaver started in place of Garcia twice since Garcia was flipped to a reliever’s role, and now the right-handed rookie will have to find his work out of the ‘pen, as Garcia’s return to the rotation prompts a reliever’s role for Weaver.
To counter Garcia, the Reds will roll with right-handed pitcher Tim Adleman. Two of the 28-year-old rookie Adleman’s three most recent starts have been quality. Since being promoted on August 16, Adleman is 2-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 57.2 innings, all of which have come in a starting pitcher’s role.
In the second game of the four-game series, Adam Wainwright will get the nod for the Cardinals. Wainwright has allowed eight runs over his last eleven innings, during which the right-handed hurler has allowed sixteen hits and walked four batters.
Taking the mound for the Reds opposite of Wainwright is slated to be Robert Stephenson. Stephenson has allowed eighteen earned runs across six big-league starts, during which he has allowed seven doubles and as many home runs. Stephenson has made four starts since returning to the majors on September 2; Stephenson has been a member of the Triple-A Louisville Bats since late April.
In the third game of the series, former Cincinnati Red Mike Leake will make the start for the Cardinals. Leake was lit up for five runs in his start against the Cubs on September 23, although five of Leake’s last eight starts have been quality.
Taking the mound for Cincy will be Anthony DeSclafani, who is 2-4 with a 3.80 ERA over his last seven games and starts. Overall this year, DeSclafani is 8-5 with a solid 3.38 ERA, given his home ballpark. DeSclafani has whiffed 102 batters in 117.1 innings across nineteen starts for the Reds this season.
Alex Reyes will toe the rubber in the series finale on Thursday evening at Busch Stadium. Reyes, who allowed three runs in his five-inning outing against the Cubs on September 24, saw his ERA actually jump to 1.58; that’s not too shabby for a 22-year-old in his first 40 big-league innings.
Dan Straily is expected to get the start for the Reds in the fourth and final game of the series. Straily is having a very respectable season for Cincy this year, as the 27-year-old right-handed hurler is 14-8 with a 3.74 ERA in 185.1 innings in 33 games, including 30 starts.