Reds vs. Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake vs. RHP Michael Wacha


Cincinnati Reds (71-83) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (86-68)

RHP Mike Leake (11-12, 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .266 OAV) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.14 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .228 OAV)

Saturday, September 20, 2014: 7:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium

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For what will be the fifth time this season, Leake will get the ball on Saturday against his arch-nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to his previous start against Milwaukee, Leake had not lost a game in over a month. The model of consistency in the Reds rotation, the stability provided by the right-hander from Arizona State has been nearly lost in a season that has not gone the way many believed it would for Cincinnati.

Where Leake has gotten hurt this season has been in the middle of the order. The number three and four hitters are batting .337 and .326, respectively, while both slugging over .560. In addition to those batters being an Achilles heel, the first pitch of the at-bat has proven problematic also. In 110 at-bats in 2014, hitters are hitting .355 on the first pitch. Leake has allowed 39 hits—14 of which are extra-base hits, five being home runs, as there have been more total bases on the first pitch of the plate appearance than any other count.

Four times this season Leake has taken to the mound against the big, bad Redbirds. All four times ended in him tossing a quality start. For a team that has pounded him so viciously throughout his short career, Leake hopes the Cardinals bats stay quiet one more time around.

Here is the lineup he will face via the team’s Twitter account:

CF – Jon Jay (7-for-29, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB’s, 8 K’s)

2B – Kolten Wong (4-for-14, 1 RBI, 1 K)

LF – Matt Holliday (13-for-33, 3 2B’s, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB’s, 2 K’s)

SS – Jhonny Peralta (1-for-11, 1 2B, 1 BB, 5 K’s)

RF – Oscar Taveras (2-for-6, 1 2B, 2 K’s)

1B – Yadier Molina (6-for-22, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 7 K’s)

3B – Daniel Descalso (2-for-10, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K)

C – Tony Cruz (4-for-7, 1 RBI, 1 BB)

P – Michael Wacha (0-for-2, 1 K)

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As St. Louis approaches yet another Postseason, their most pressing concern comes in the form of their young fire baller that set the baseball world ablaze last Fall, Michael Wacha. After having not pitched for nearly three months, the first start in which Wacha had the leash taken off on September 9 did not go well. The Reds lacerated him for six runs in just four innings of work.

Jumping right back on the horse after some time off, Wacha will get the start Saturday night as St. Louis tries to figure out the complex kinks.

Wacha’s home/away splits in 2014 have been drastic. Pitching at Busch Stadium, he is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA and has a WHIP of 1.03. Away from Missouri, he is 0-6 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. It seems there are two completely different Michael Wacha’s—unfortunately, the one the Reds are facing on Saturday night seems to be the good one.

In what is the equivalent of about one full year of starts, Wacha has shown to pitch efficiently when the game is tight. With his offense scoring him two runs or less, his ERA is a stealthy 1.59, as he strikes out better than a batter per inning and has allowed only two home runs in over 62 innings of work. Even when the offense doesn’t help, Wacha helps himself.

Here is the lineup he will face via the team’s Twitter account:

CF – Billy Hamilton (1-for-8, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K)

3B – Kristopher Negron (yet to face Wacha)

1B – Todd Frazier (1-for-11, 1 BB, 3 K’s)

C – Devin Mesoraco (2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K)

2B – Brandon Phillips (0-for-12, 3 K’s)

RF – Jay Bruce (0-for-11, 7 K’s)

LF – Ryan Ludwick (3-for-11, 2 K’s)

SS – Zack Cozart (3-for-10, 1 3B, 1 K)

P – Mike Leake (1-for-2, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K)

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With the luck the Reds have had the past few games, it will be a minor miracle if they can put multiple runs on the scoreboard. While Wacha has been dreadful since returning, there is a reason he is regarded as the future cornerstone of the St. Louis franchise.

The game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1 should you be able to pull yourself away from college football from three hours as the Reds come down the homestretch. It’s Leake. It’s Wacha. 7:15 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.