September 26, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) reacts before a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Reds Potential Playoff Match-Up Part 4: St. Louis Cardinals


Before Todd Frazier took a first pitch fastball from John Axford over the center field wall, Part 4 was going to feature the red hot Brewers. After Navarro tripled to score Jay Bruce and upset the Brewers 2-1 after failing to score in any of the previous 26 outs, we’re going to skip to the Cardinals, the team currently in possession of the remaining wild card slot.

What do I need to tell you about the Cardinals that you don’t already know? Some basics. An explosive offense that ranks 6th in runs scored, 3rd in the NL. The Cardinals hit. The team’s cumulative .271 batting average is good for 4th in baseball, 2nd in the NL. They’re a very disciplined team, too – over 40 more walks than the Reds.

As for their pitching, they boast a team ERA of 3.75. Their starting rotation comes in just above the Reds, producing an ERA of 3.63 to the Reds’ 3.73. Everyone knows the usual suspects in this gang – Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia – a very dangerous bunch. But it’s not their rotation that is going to give them problems. It’s the guys relieving them.

The St. Louis bullpen sports an ERA of 4.00. To put it into perspective, this St. Louis pen has surrendered 202 runs, while the Reds’ have just allowed 124. Teams are hitting just .217 against the best bullpen in baseball, while hitting .246 against St. Louis. This is a major discrepancy between the teams.

Jason Motte has an impressive 40 saves; only, his seven blown saves is only exceeded by two pitchers in all of baseball – John Axford is one of them. The bullpen has been a real problem for the Cardinals. The relievers have accounted for 26 losses, the 5th most bullpen losses in the game.

What it all means is that Cincinnati and St. Louis are a virtual wash in the starting rotation, with the Cardinals having only a slight advantage in ERA; however, the kicker is that St. Louis would have to likely burn Adam Wainwright in the Wild Card round, leaving an untested Chris Carpenter (has thrown against the Cubs and Astros) and Kyle Lohse, who is a career 3-3 with a 3.34 ERA against the Reds. Though to be fair,in 2012 against the Reds, he’s 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA.

The Reds aren’t in the same hemisphere as this St. Louis offense. But their pitching has held them at bay. Cueto is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA against the Birds in 2012. Arroyo is 1-0 with a 3.38.

Mat Latos, however, is 0-2 with a 9.77 against St. Louis this year.

In October, when runs are at a premium, I’m going with Cincinnati, in a series that goes four games. If the Reds can take one at St. Louis, they could finish the Birds at GABP, where they went 5-4 against the Cards this season, including a three game sweep.

Predicition: Reds move on 3-1

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds MLB Playoffs St Louis Cardinals