The St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff hopes appeared to take a devastating hit when longtime ace Adam Wainwright had to go on the disabled list last month with an elbow injury. Enter rookie Luke Weaver, who goes for his fifth victory in as many starts when the Cardinals wrap up their three-game series against the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon.
St. Louis had its four-game winning streak snapped with Wednesday’s 6-0 setback, suffering only its third loss in 13 games while falling to 6-9 against the Reds this year. Cleanup hitter Jose Martinez is 4-for-8 in the series and has hit safely in 13 of 14 games for the Cardinals, who dropped into third place in the National League Central - one-half game behind Milwaukee and three back of the first-place Chicago Cubs. Cincinnati reached 200 homers for the seventh time in franchise history in style as Eugenio Suarez hit the team’s seventh grand slam of the season - two shy of the club record. Weaver will be opposed by another rookie in Cincinnati’s Amir Garrett, who blanked St. Louis on two hits over six innings on April 7 in his major-league debut but is 0-5 over his last seven starts.
TV: 1:45 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds LH Amir Garrett (3-7, 7.39 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Luke Weaver (5-1, 2.16)
Making his first start since June 20 after a lengthy stint in the minors, Garrett was plagued by the same issue that has sabotaged his season - an inability to keep the ball in the park. The 25-year-old took the loss against the Mets in New York on Friday after giving up four runs and five hits, including three homers. Garrett has surrendered a staggering 22 home runs in only 63 1/3 innings.
Weaver remained perfect in four starts since replacing Wainwright, blanking Pittsburgh on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings on Friday. The 24-year-old has permitted only four runs in those four outings while amassing 36 strikeouts against four walks in a span of 25 1/3 frames. Weaver faced the Reds in his final appearance of 2016 and was hammered for five runs while retiring only two batters.
1. Reds LF Adam Duvall has hit safely in 10 straight games against St. Louis.
2. Cardinals 3B Matt Carpenter has drawn 10 walks in his last five games, giving him 99 on the season.
3. The Reds placed RHP Drew Storen on the 10-day disabled list due to a sprained right elbow.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 8, Reds 3