Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto’s hot bat looks to ground the Cardinals

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a single in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Great American Ball Park on September 26, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a single in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Great American Ball Park on September 26, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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ST LOUIS, MO – APRIL 28: Jose Iglesias #4 of the Cincinnati Reds dives to tag out Dexter Fowler #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals who is back on second base during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on April 28, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO – APRIL 28: Jose Iglesias #4 of the Cincinnati Reds dives to tag out Dexter Fowler #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals who is back on second base during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on April 28, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /

Outfield leading the way for the Cardinals

It’s safe to say no player has drawn the ire of Cardinals fans as much as Dexter Fowler over the past 2-plus years. Nevertheless, the switch hitting outfielder has been turning those jeers to cheers thus far in 2019.

Slashing .253/.382/.784 with a 111 OPS+, Dexter Fowler is performing like the player the St. Louis front office envisioned when they signed him to a 5-year deal before the 2017 season. Reds’ manager David Bell would be wise to keep right-handers Jared Hughes and Michael Lorenzen on the sidelined when Fowler steps to the plate. The 33-year-old outfielder is hitting .400 against each of them with 2 homers off Mikey Biceps.

Marcell Ozuna did not have the type of season he or Cardinals fans had hoped in 2018, but the outfielder is doing his best to show off the skills that made him such a lethal weapon prior to St. Louis acquiring his services from the Miami Marlins following the 2017 campaign.

The 28-year-old free agent to be is mashing. He’s currently among NL leaders in home runs (16), RBIs (51), and runs scored (42). Never known for his speed, Ozuna’s four steals are just one off his career-high reached during his 2013 rookie year. It could be a long afternoon for Cincinnati Reds’ starter Tyler Mahle on Thursday.

In 6 career at-bats, Marcell Ozuna has 3 hits including a homer and 6 RBIs against the Reds right-hander. However, Michael Lorenzen has dominated Ozuna, retiring him 13 of the 15 times they have faced each other.

Cincinnati will miss notorious Reds killer Yadier Molina on the trip to the Gateway City. Molina was recently placed on the 10-day injured list with a right thumb tendon strain. Expect to see veteran Matt Wieters handling the catching duties in Yadi’s absence.