Apr 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) throws a pitch during the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Three Up, Three Down -- 4/29/13 (Reds @ Cardinals)


Well, that was ugly. The Reds’ offensive slide from the series vs the Cubs continued well into the series in the nation’s capital. It’s hard to write an article about the three best and three worst Reds players in a given series when nearly all of the offensive players were pretty terrible. However, there were some bright spots to be found in the darkness of the series defeat, including the convincing game four win. The offense finally looked to be coming around in the last game, and they’ll need it heading into a three game series division rival Cardinals.

Three Up

Joey Votto

Votto once again flip-flops my list, going from Three Up to Three Down to Three Up again. Joey hasn’t been terrible this season, but like the team as a whole, he’s just sort of been ‘meh’. He provided the only offense in the first couple of games against the Nationals, which is why he finds this list. He continued his good play into the only win the Reds were able to capture in that series, so hopefully it carries through into the next series in St. Louis.

Tony Cingrani

Apr 18, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani stands on deck during the third inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

How good has this young kid been? Seemingly every time a major Red goes down, a younger kid steps up. We saw it last year with Todd Frazier in the absence of Joey Votto, and we’re seeing it now with Cingrani in the absense of Johnny Cueto. Now, he’s not replacing Cueto by any means, but you have to think Cingrani’s pitching will at least give the front office something to think about when Cueto is healthy again. Does Cingrani stay on the big league club if everyone else stays healthy? That’s a big if, as the beginning of this season has taught us. For right now, let’s just sit back and enjoy this kid work.

Aroldis Chapman

Chapman is as close to automatic as something in baseball can possibly be. Although he walked a batter in Sunday’s game (only his third walk of the season), Chapman was able to nail down his fifth save of the season. His numbers aren’t wowing so far, mostly due to his lack of save opportunities. But know this — we’re still witnessing something very special every time this guy takes the mound.

 

Three Down

Apr 21, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds player Shin-Soo Choo runs to first base after hitting a double scoring Todd Frazier (not pictured) off Miami Marlins relief pitcher Jon Rauch (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not doing a Three Down section for this series, because the majority of the Reds team was pretty awful for the first three games against the Nationals. This offense is not built to suffer two straight one-hit games. The series against the Nationals made everyone look like they’d never played the game before. Perhaps it’s the long string of games, perhaps it’s just good luck running out. But whatever it is needs to turn around. Brandon Phillips, Shin-Soo Choo, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce all need to turn things around. Hopefully they’ll get things right against the Cardinals, or else they’ll be in a world of hurt in the standings.

 

What to expect against the St. Louis Cardinals

Most of us by now know what to expect from the Cardinals when we face them. Things can go one of two ways in any baseball game, and it’s never more true than when the Reds play the Cardinals. The winning team in these matchups usually has a very good day at the plate, paired with a nice showing from the pitching staff.

And boy, will we have a good pitching matchup tonight. Two of the premier arms in the National League will go toe-to-toe in the form of Mat Latos vs. Adam Wainwright. For as great has Latos has been in April (especially compared to April 2012), Wainwright has been even better. The former All-Star has been straight up dominate, and comes into Monday night’s matchup sporting a slim 1.93 ERA. He’s coming off four straight very good outings against the Giants, Brewers, Phillies and Nationals, and will look to make quick work of a struggling Reds lineup.

Fortunately, the Reds will attempt to fight fire with fire. Latos has been far and away the Reds’ best starting pitcher in a rotation that has been one of the best in the league. Latos, who finally got his first win of the season in his last outing, comes in to tonight’s game featuring a 2.16 ERA through 33.1 innings. This should certainly be a good matchup, and may come down to whichever team can get the bats going first.

Game two of the series will see Bronson Arroyo take on Jaime Garcia. Garcia had a very nice outing against the Reds on the first trip through St. Louis, striking out 10 Reds batters and giving up only three runs. Garcia sports a 2.89 ERA through 28 innings. He’s accumulated 12 walks to 25 strikeouts. He comes off a win against the Washington Nationals.

The final game of the Reds’ 20 day bender will feature Homer Bailey squaring off against 4-0 Lance Lynn. Lynn has been racking up the Ks this season, currently sitting at 34 on the season. He comes into the matchup against the Reds with a 3.10 ERA through 29 innings. When matched with his 4-0 record, you can see that the Red Birds have been supporting Lynn with plenty of runs when his number is called. Bailey will need to turn on the switch for this matchup.

Depending on the outcome of this series, either team could leave atop the division. And when it’s over, the streak ends. The Reds will get a very much deserved off-day before heading to Wrigley Field for a matchup against the Cubs. I see the Reds bouncing back from mediocrity, taking two of three from the Cardinals in St. Louis.

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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds MLB NL Central St Louis Cardinals