Reds vs Cardinals: Pitching preview, prediction, and more

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 4: Fans get ready for the opening day game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 4: Fans get ready for the opening day game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action.
JUPITER, FLORIDA – MARCH 20: Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals in action. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Reds’ fans have a new enemy to root against.

While the Reds biggest acquisition of the offseason was signing reliever Sean Doolittle, the Cardinals decided to be a bit more ambitious. St. Louis acquired arguably the best third baseman in the game, Nolan Arenado, from the Colorado Rockies with minimal impact on their major league roster and farm system. To call it an absolute heist would be an understatement.

Arenado joins a club that finished in a virtual second-place tie with the Redlegs in the 2020 National League Central standings behind the Chicago Cubs. Like the Reds, the Cardinals failed to escape the Wild Card round, falling to the San Diego Padres in three games.

Expect the St. Louis offense to be more potent than the 2020 edition. Scoring runs consistently was a herculean task for the Cardinals. Their average of 4.14 runs per contest ranked 11th in the senior circuit, while their 51 homers ranked last in the NL.

Last year’s offensive standout was perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. The first baseman slashed .304/.417/.466 with 13 doubles. However, there’s a new Redbird on the scene who could have a significant impact.

All indications point to 22-year-old rookie outfielder Dylan Carlson starting in center field on Opening Day as Harrison Bader is out with a forearm injury. Carlson is sure to generate plenty of hype as a Rookie of the Year candidate. One of the most prominent question marks entering the Cardinals season is their outfield, and Carlson’s performance will be vital in determining their fate.

The pitching mound was much kinder to the Cardinals last season. Their team ERA of 3.90 was good enough for fourth among NL pitching staffs despite finishing 13th with just 464 strikeouts.  Expect the eight-time Gold Glove winner Arenado to have ample opportunities to show off his leatherwork.