(Matt Carpenter photo courtesy Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Sunday, Sept. 1, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo., 1:05 p.m. EDT.
The weekend battle of attrition continues at Busch Stadium, where the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals are hoping respective starters Tyler Mahle and Miles Mikolas can go deep into the opener of this second straight doubleheader between the teams.
Mahle to make first start in six weeks for Reds
It may be too big of an ask for Mahle (2-10, 4.93 ERA) to get deep into this game considering this will be his first start for the Reds since straining his left hamstring in a July 19 start versus the Cardinals.
Mahle was activated off the injured list Aug. 22 but continued his rehab assignment at Triple-A Memphis, where he made a third start for the Redbirds on Monday and scattered three hits in five shutout innings while striking out six and throwing 48 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
The right-hander did not factor in the decision of that start against the Cardinals, yielding four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-11 loss. Mahle also took a loss to St. Louis on April 27, getting tagged for five runs in five innings of a 6-3 defeat and is 1-2 with a 6.10 ERA in four career matchups with the division rivals.
Mikolas looks to avoid being first 14-game loser in NL
It has been a stunning year-to-year turnaround for Mikolas (8-13, 4.32), who returned to the majors from Japan last year and stunned everyone with 18 victories. The right-hander is seeking back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly four months after one of his best outings of the season.
Mikolas stifled the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, yielding one run and four hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory while striking out a season-high 10. It was also a relief of sorts as he beat a team other than the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time since June 17.
“We made some mistakes in the middle of the plate [in the] second inning, but after that, he pitched a great game,” Molina told the Cardinals’ official website. “His curveball was working well tonight and his fastball, too. That’s what we need from him. We need him to be our ace, and he showed that tonight.”
Mikolas is looking to avoid a fourth straight losing start to the Reds as he faces them for the fifth time this year. He has gotten only one run of support in those defeats, but the most recent defeat was more on him as he permitted five runs — including a three-run shot by Aristides Aquino — in five innings of a 6-1 setback Aug. 17.
The righty is 2-3 with a 4.62 ERA in seven matchups with Cincinnati since returning stateside.
The Cardinals are:
- 4-1 in Mikolas’ last five Sunday starts.
- 15-6 in Mikolas’ last 21 home starts.
- 6-2 in their last eight in the first game of a doubleheader.
The Reds are:
- 0-6 in Mahle’s last six starts vs. NL Central teams.
- 1-6 in Mahle’s last seven starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 0-6 in Mahle’s last six road starts vs. above-.500 teams.
Cardinals -1.5 runs (+130)
The three things against Mahle — coming back from an injury, his form against division opponents, and his road form — are too much for the Reds to overcome in this game.
Mikolas has had his struggles against the Reds this year, but the hedge is he builds on his last outing and the Cardinals try to take the life out of Cincinnati quickly in the third game between the teams in 24 hours.
Cardinals -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)
This is more of an anti-Mahle pick than pro-Mikolas one considering the Cardinals have not led after five innings in any of Mikolas’ four starts versus the Reds this year (0-2-2). Still, the Reds are 5-11-1 at the midway point in their last 17 road games versus above-.500 teams, and the fall-off in pitching level for Cincinnati from Saturday nightcap starter Sonny Gray to a rusty Mahle should be enough to see the Cardinals through to a lead.
UNDER 8.5 runs (Even)
For all his struggles this year, Mikolas still brings it against division foes — the under is 8-1-1 in his last 10 such starts and has allowed more than three runs in just two of them. The under is also 7-3 in his last 10 home starts and 6-2-1 in his last nine overall.
The over has been trending with Mahle except in one key area, with the under 7-3-1 in his last 11 road starts.
Cardinals’ Goldschmidt to have RBI (+111)
Despite going 0 for 4 in the nightcap of Saturday’s twinbill, Goldschmidt is still worth a flyer here considering he had gone 7 for 15 with two homers and seven RBIs in the previous four contests versus the Reds. He also has had some success versus Mahle in a limited sample size, going 3 for 4 with an RBI.
UNDER 4.5 runs first 5 innings (-110)
Mikolas has been completely hit or miss against the Reds this year with the over/under splitting his four starts. He has kept Cincinnati off the scoreboard in two of the games while the Reds had four and five runs in the other two starts. The hedge (and hope) is this is one of his better games while Mahle does just enough with the hook’s help to keep it under.
Cardinals OVER 1 run first 3 innings (-145)
Rather than try to guess which Mikolas will show up against the Reds, the better play is to have confidence in the Cardinals being aggressive early against Mahle as he tries to find the strike zone against major league hitters for the first time in six weeks. The Cardinals have plated at least one run in four of their last five games versus the Reds and in four of their last five at home.