The Reds can finish off the much-needed weekend sweep of the Cardinals today with Sonny Gray up against Johan Oviedo. They haven’t gained any ground on the Brewers, but at least haven’t lost any more. The first game required a comeback off of the St. Louis bullpen and the second game was another gem of a start from Luis Castillo that got a little dicey in the late innings.
With today’s game, the Reds, who are missing Nick Castellanos, get another favorable pitching matchup. They didn’t cash in enough chances against Jake Woodford, who gave them chances with nine baserunners over five innings, but managed to get a couple of big runs off of the bullpen.
This is still a solid lineup without Castellanos. Missing his big bat is definitely a concern, but the Reds are getting good numbers from guys like Jonathan India and Tyler Naquin, though Naquin got off to a much better start than what we’ve seen from him lately. Jesse Winker is having an MLB caliber season.
Cincinnati also has a lot of offensive confidence at home. It is crazy that the Reds are only 26-25 at home with their top-five offense at home, but it speaks to how the pitching staff has struggled. At least yesterday’s seven innings from Castillo gave the bullpen a little bit of a reprieve.
Cincinnati has a .341 wOBA at home and has had a decided offensive advantage in this series. The St. Louis offense lacks any sort of power. The Cardinals have a lot of singles hitters and gap guys. They don’t have guys that draw a lot of walks really and certainly don’t have guys that can hit the long ball. It has been an uphill climb for St. Louis offensively all season and it isn’t just because of Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are 21st in wOBA on the road as well.
Sonny Gray gets the call for Cincinnati today. He’s got a 3.65 ERA with a 3.54 FIP in his 66.2 innings of work. He’s had to contend with a .333 BABIP, even though his average exit velocity is just 86.4 mph and his Hard Hit% is just 30.1%. He’s a positive regression candidate in a lot of areas as a result of his contact management metrics, at least in my opinion.
There aren’t a lot of positive signs in the profile for Johan Oviedo. He has a low Hard Hit% of 35% in his 58 innings this season, but he’s not really a Major League caliber pitcher. The 23-year-old has an 11.7% BB% and a low K% of 17%, so he has gotten himself in trouble a lot. He basically skipped Triple-A to be used in a pinch last season for the Cardinals when COVID concerns popped up. Then he went to Triple-A this season and worked just 14 innings.
I don’t think Triple-A is a mandatory stop, but when you posted a 5.65 ERA with a 4.13 FIP in 113 Double-A innings, it would probably have been a good idea. Oviedo has not missed bats at the MLB level and has walked 41 batters in 82.2 innings of work. He’s a young kid and could improve with some polish, but he’s at the MLB level right now because of injuries and that is the sole reason.
Not surprisingly, the road has been unkind to Oviedo with a .393 wOBA against and a .289/.405/.509 slash in 39 innings. We know that Busch Stadium is a big safety net for pitchers and Oviedo has used it with a .270 wOBA against and a 3.92 ERA in 43.2 innings of work. With a neutral pitching environment at home, his poor MLB numbers would look even worse.
I’m trying to find scenarios in which the Reds lose this game. I can’t really find any. Maybe the bullpen, but the Cardinals don’t have a great bullpen themselves. I do prefer the 1st 5 to the full game, but there seems to be an issue in the app with the 1st 5 lines that are being pulled. The price is not what it is locking in on the app, but the line is about the same as the full game. I’ve alerted management about the app, but I’m on the Reds 1st 5.
Pick: Cincinnati Reds 1st 5
Other game: Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians