The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds square off in the rubber match of a series tonight (8 ET, ESPN) in a game that should be an entertaining pitcher’s duel. Here's a look at some of the numbers our broadcast crew will be talking about tonight.
Wainwright picks up where he left off
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright has shown no ill effects from a laborious 2013 workload in which he worked 276 2/3 innings, including postseason (the most by any pitcher since Curt Schilling threw 305 and Randy Johnson threw 291 in 2001).
Wainwright will look to continue an impressive start to the season, one in which he is 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA.
Part of his success is thanks to an opponent batting average of just .185 this season, second in the majors to Johnny Cueto.
Last season, Wainwright posted the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in Cardinals franchise history (6.3). His mark this season, (4.3), would be the fourth-best.
Wainwright’s breaking ball has long been the key to his success, and that’s no different this season. His 45 strikeouts with his curve and slider this season ranked third in the majors entering Sunday, trailing Corey Kluber (61) and Jose Fernandez (52).
Wainwright is 6-9 with a 4.75 ERA in his career against the Reds, his worst won-loss record and second-worst ERA against any National League team. The only NL team against which he has a higher ERA is the New York Mets (5.13), whom he had one of the finest moments of his career against when he saved Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.
He did pitch seven scoreless innings against the Reds earlier this season.
Mike Leake has ranked among the most efficient pitchers in the majors this season. In fact, he has matched Wainwright in one regard. They are tied for the second-fewest pitches per inning this season (13.9), trailing Tim Hudson (12.9).
League has made significant improvements to his work against right-handed hitters. They hit .269 with a .445 slugging percentage in 2012 and 2013 but are hitting only .209 with a .291 slugging percentage against him in 2014.
The Cardinals have hit Leake well. He is 3-4 with a 5.06 ERA in 10 games, nine starts, against them.
But again, like Wainwright, he has been good against tonight's opponent this season, throwing eight scoreless innings in his lone meeting against the Cardinals on April 9.
Reds struggling offensively
The Reds are averaging 3.6 runs per game this season. They haven’t fared worse than that over a full season since averaging 3.4 in 1983.
The decline has come largely as the product of fewer home runs. They are on pace for only 131 this season, which would be a 24-homer drop from 2013.
The Reds also miss Shin-Soo Choo quite a bit. Their leadoff hitters had a .415 on-base percentage in 2013 but have reached at a .282 clip in 2014.
Matchup to Watch: Wainwright vs. Bruce
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is 11-for-30 (.367 batting average) with two home runs and 10 strikeouts in his career against Wainwright.
Since Start of Last Season
Bruce’s numbers have been in significant decline since he returned from a disabled list stint in August. We’ve illustrated that in the chart on the right.
Bruce is hitting .209 with three home runs this season. He can expect to see a defensive shift from the Cardinals, as 21 of his 25 ground balls this season have been to the right of second base. He is 3-for-20 on ground balls and line drives hit against shifted defenses this season.