Reds' catalyst Tyler Stephenson looks to close out strong 1st-half with a visit St. Louis

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Cardinals

Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene vs. St. Louis Cardinals starter Andre Pallante

Fireballing Hunter Greene (3-10 5.70 ERA) opens the series tonight squaring off against Andre Pallante (2-4 3.18 ERA) of the Cardinals. It's tough to be much more spectacular than the Cincinnati rookie was his last time out.

Tossing six innings versus the Tampa Bay Rays, Greene hit the 100-mph mark an astounding 38 times falling just short of the record 39 times he hit the century mark during a start against the Dodgers in LA on April 16th. The 22-year-old right-hander was excellent in his last meeting with the Cardinals. Greene allowed just one run on two hits in five frames while fanning seven.

Fellow rookie Andre Pallante has been excellent since making his MLB debut on April 10th. The Reds saw firsthand in their last visit to St. Louis just how tough a customer he can be. Hurling 5.1 innings of shutout baseball, the 23-year-old right-hander picked up the victory in a 2-0 Cardinals win.

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. St. Louis Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas

Nick Lodolo (2-2 4.44 ERA) toes the rubber Saturday afternoon as Miles Mikolas (6-7 2.62 ERA) receives the nod for Oliver Marmol's club. Since returning from a lower back injury that kept him on the IL for two months, the Cincinnati rookie has been sensational in his two starts upon returning to the active roster.

The southpaw has yielded three runs in 9.2 frames and racked up an amazing 14 K's in his two outings. You don't have to tell the Cardinals how nasty Lodolo can be. He picked up his first career victory when he limited the Redbirds to one run in 5.1 innings with seven punch outs in an April 24th start at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati always looks forward to seeing Miles Mikolas on the mound. In his last five starts versus the Redlegs, the 33-year-old right-hander is winless with an ugly 6.84 ERA in 25 frames. However, you'll have a hard time of convincing Reds legend Joey Votto of his struggles. The future Hall of Famer is just 4 for 21 against Mikolas in their head-to-head meetings.

Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene vs. St. Louis Cardinals starter TBD

The series will conclude with Graham Ashcraft (4-2 4.45 ERA) going for the Cincinnati Reds. The St. Louis Cardinals have yet to announce a starter for the first-half finale. It's been tough going of late for the Reds' 24-year-old rookie.

In 31 innings of work over his last six appearances, the right-hander has allowed 24 runs and a completely unsustainable 47 hits. Unfortunately, heavy base path traffic has plagued Ashcraft in his debut MLB season as evidenced by his 1.35 WHIP. His outing versus the Redbirds last month is indicative of his struggles. Completing just 4.2 frames, the Alabama native surrendered four runs on nine hits.