Reds vs Cardinals: Preview, pitching matchups and prediction

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 23: Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals attempts to score a run against the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on August 23, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. Carlson was out at the plate. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 23: Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals attempts to score a run against the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on August 23, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. Carlson was out at the plate. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds bats at Great American Ball Park.
CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 3: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds bats at Great American Ball Park. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Free-agent acquisition could hold the key for Reds fortunes

The 2020 season has been a struggle for virtually everyone on the roster and Mike Moustakas has certainly had his share of adversity to deal with since putting on a Cincinnati Reds uniform. However, as far as first impressions are concerned, Moose could not have made a more positive one to Reds Country.

On Opening Day, Moustakas collected three hits in four trips to the plate including a homer and four RBI in a Reds 7-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately, two days later the Reds second baseman was placed on the IL due to illness. Once he returned, Moose appeared in just four games before being sidelined for two weeks with a quad injury.

As a result, with the calendar turning to September, Moustakas is slashing .246/.353./.368 with just two homers and one double in 67 at-bats. Obviously, this is not the type of production the Reds expect from the three-time All-Star, but there’s reason to believe a big September is in store for him.

First of all, the 10-year veteran has a career .440 slugging mark, and while playing for the Brewers the past two years, Moustakas compiled a .496 rate. His current slugging rate of .368 would be his lowest since a .361 mark in 2014 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Next. look for Moose to start putting the ball in play at a higher rate. According to FanGraphs, his current strikeout rate of 26.5% is completely out of character for a guy with a 15.9% career mark. Finally, good things happen when Mike Moustakas put the ball in play, as evidence by his .316 BABIP number this season.

Prediction

When you’re 1.5 games out of a playoff spot, every series is important. But, when you’re playing the team that holds that 1.5 game advantage it obviously takes on greater significance. There’s no point in rehashing the Reds recent history against the Cardinals. All of Reds Country is painfully aware of the results.

Next. Danny Graves rants about the "entitled" Cubs

If the Cincinnati Reds have any hope of playing into October they must take care of business against the teams directly ahead of them in the standings. Three games at home versus a flawed Cardinals squad should boost the hopes of Reds Country as we move into September with the Redlegs capturing two of three and moving within a half-game of a playoff spot with 23 games remaining.