(BaseballStL) – The Cincinnati Reds are in town for the last time this season, and the series marks the beginning of a pivotal run for the Cardinals.
With 13 straight games against the Pirates and the Reds, the fate of the NL Central will be shaped by the next two weeks.
Cincinnati is 2.5 games back in the division and seven games ahead in the wild card race, making it all but certain they will see the postseason in one form or another.
With that in mind, here are five things to know about the Reds.
1.) Series opener starter Mike Leake is a bit of Jekyll and Hyde against the Cards. David Freese and Matt Holliday are all over him, batting .538 and .450 respectively. Freese has an OPS of 1.495 in his 13 at-bats. Jay is also hitting over .300 against Leake, but that’s where the good news ends. Molina is hitting .286, Craig is at .182 and Carlos Beltran is batting a gruesome .111 after going 2-18 against him. It is his lowest success rate against any active pitcher with that many at-bats, according to ESPN.
2.) Votto is hitting .400 against the Cardinals this year. Choo is hitting .311 and Bruce is also over the .300 mark. While Lyons doesn’t have a large body of work against the Reds, Adam Wainwright- the current projected starter of game three- does.
Votto is 3-for-23 in his career against Waino. Bruce and Choo have had more success, going 9-for-30 combined. With the exception of Ryan Ludwick (3-for-10), no one on the Reds roster that has faced Wainwright at least 10 times his hitting over .300 against him.
3.) The Reds relievers allow 27 percent of all inherited runners score, just below the league average of 28 percent. The Cardinals are tied with Arizona for the lowest in baseball at 23 percent. Just for laughs, the Nationals are at an astronomical 42 percent.
61 percent of all starts by Reds pitchers are considered quality starts (meaning they go at least six innings and give up three runs or less). The league average is 54 percent. While Adam Wainwright is third in all of the majors with 81 percent quality starts, the Cardinal rotation is sitting at 55.
5.) Cincinnati trails only the vaunted Detroit pitching staff in strikeout percentage. Their hurlers struck out a hitter in 21.9 percent of all plate appearances. While they may be more likely to strike someone out than St. Louis, the Cards are less likely to surrender a home run. The Cardinals trail only the Pirates as the stingiest club on home runs and extra base hits, allowing just 1.8 percent of all plate appearances to end in a homer and 6.5 percent to end in a multiple bases.
If you hit a ball against the Reds, 35 percent of the time it's going for extra bases. For the Cards it's 29.