These two teams enter the series separated by just a half-game in the division standings. Cincinnati enters the weekend two games over the .500-mark with a 49-47 overall record, 6.5 games back of the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are fresh off of getting back over the .500-mark following back-to-back wins. St. Louis enters play on Friday with a 49-48 record in 97 contests, good for third place in the NL Central race.
Can the Cardinals make up ground in the division standings with a win over the Reds on Saturday night?
Woodford beats Cubs in first start of 2021The Cardinals are expected to hand the ball to rookie right-hander Jake Woodford for his third career start and his second of the 2021 season. The 24-year-old made a name for himself in the Cardinals’ minor league system by featuring a plus-curveball among a wealth of off-speed offerings. After spending the first half working out of the bullpen, Woodford got his first start of the season after the All-Star Break and performed well in a win versus the Chicago Cubs. He limited the Cubs to just one run in 5 ⅔ frames while striking out six batters and walking none on the night. Woodford comes in with a 2-1 record and a 4.06 ERA in 18 games (one start) this year.
The Cardinals’ right-hander appeared in 12 games (one start) in his first cup of coffee at the MLB level in 2020, posting a 1-0 record and 5.57 ERA. Woodford will try to build on the success of his first start when he did a better job of commanding his arsenal. For the season, he has issued a troubling 4.06 walks per nine innings of work while also giving up 1.45 home runs per nine. With a 5.06 xERA and 5.55 FIP, Woodford will be a candidate for some regression in the second half unless he can find a way to clean things up.
This will be Woodford’s third appearance of the season against the Reds. He has logged a 4.50 ERA in four combined frames versus Cincinnati so far this year. Per Baseball Savant, current Reds are batting only .227 in 27 plate appearances off of the Cardinals’ rookie heading into Saturday’s start.
Castillo looks to continue turnaround vs. CardinalsCincinnati is scheduled to counter with flamethrowing right-hander Luis Castillo on Saturday night. Castillo had a horrendous start to the 2021 campaign, posting a 1-8 record and 7.22 ERA over his first 11 starts. However, he’s shown some signs of life over the last two months. The Reds’ right-hander has held opponents to three earned runs or fewer while pitching into the sixth inning or later in each of his last nine outings dating back to the beginning of June. Despite his best efforts to turn his season around, Castillo still enters with an unsightly 3-10 overall record to go along with a dwindling 4.39 ERA so far this season. Last time out, the Reds’ righty spun six scoreless frames with eight strikeouts against the Milwaukee Brewers but was rendered with a no-decision on the night.
Even with Castillo pitching well, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about the right-hander’s performance this season. His average heater is still clocking in at a healthy 97.1 mph, yet he’s watched his strikeout rate drop from an elite 11.44 K/9 in 2020 to a pedestrian 8.61 K/9 in 2021. He’s also induced swinging strikes just 12.6 percent of the time this season, tying the lowest rate of his MLB career.
Luis Castillo, 7th and 8th Ks. pic.twitter.com/i7u7BHqFIT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 18, 2021
Castillo has made 14 career starts against the Cardinals, finishing 5-6 with a 4.61 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in those matchups. Two of those outings came earlier this season. The Cardinals knocked Castillo around for 10 runs (eight earned) in the season-opener on April 1 but he responded with six innings of one-run ball in his last outing versus St. Louis on June 6. Per Baseball Savant, current Cardinals are hitting .257 in 201 plate appearances off of the Reds’ right-hander coming into Saturday’s contest.
- Cardinals are 5-1 in their last 6 overall.
- Cardinals are 5-1 in their last 6 during game 2 of a series.
- Reds are 1-5 in their last 6 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Reds are 1-5 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
- Reds are 1-5 in their last 6 games vs. a right-handed starter.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Castillo has been red-hot as of late, allowing three earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts. He’s also logged a 1.76 ERA during that span but his command has been shaky at best this month. Castillo has issued nine walks over his last two outings and he’s issued at least three free passes in six of his last eight outings, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him experience some regression in this spot. Meanwhile, Woodford nearly turned in a quality outing in his first start of the season and should provide some value for bettors in this spot. Take the Cardinals to come out on top at Great American Ballpark on Saturday.
Full-Game Total Pick
Castillo’s overall numbers are starting to catch up with his peripherals but he’s still walking hitters at a troubling rate. After nine straight outings of allowing three earned runs or fewer, Castillo could be due for some regression in this matchup against a team that he’s struggled against in the past. On the other hand, Woodford hasn’t exactly done much to inspire confidence and appears to be due for some regression over the second half. Take this matchup to go over the projected total at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark on Saturday