It is only three games, but chances are if you are betting baseball, this will be the only time this season Cincinnati will be ahead of St. Louis in the standings in the NL Central Division.
These division rivals open a three-game series on the shores of the Mississippi River and no question the Cardinals are looking for the sweep, while the Reds would love to open the season with two series victories.
If you have never heard of Amir Garrett, you are not alone. The former 4-star basketball player turned pitcher is 6’5 and around 230 pounds and has a fastball that reaches 97 MPH and a slider that looks great when thrown properly. That is the rub on the big left-hander, being able to repeat his delivery time after time. When he’s in a groove, he looks like a major-league pitcher, but when he’s like Ubaldo Jimenez (no two deliveries exactly alike), trouble soon follows.
There are worse things to be than Mike Leake if you had the ability to be a major league pitcher. Leake has a 73-64 lifetime record with a 3.99 ERA and does not have overwhelming stuff. What the right-hander does is rely on keeping the ball low, inducing groundballs and keeping walks to a minimum. Almost any team would like a pitcher in the middle their rotation with Leake’s skill set. The problem for him is pitching for St. Louis, whose infield defensive is considered below average, which reduces Leake’s effectiveness.
In the Cards series with the Cubs, the Redbirds hitters were generally more patient than in 2016. This will be important against Garrett, who is making big league debut. Make the lefty throw strikes and if he gets behind in the count, either be ready to swing or try to take a walk. The Cardinals offense should have many more chances for success this weekend.