For the first time this year, the St. Louis Cardinals make an appearance in Cincinnati. The Reds will be looking for a bit of revenge as the first two meetings between these rivals have gone the Cardinals’ way, leaving the Reds 2-4 against their arch rivals.

The big story with the Cardinals right now is that they have no fewer than four starting pitchers one the disabled list. Chris Carpenter hasn’t played a game for them this year, of course, but Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook have both gone down with injuries since the Reds last saw them. And then there’s John Gast, who was called up to replace Westbrook and promptly injured himself in his third start. The only one of these pitchers close to returning is Jake Westbrook, but he won’t make it back in time for this series.

So, the pitching matchups for the upcoming series should go like this:

Friday: Adam Wainwright (8-3, 2.33) vs. Mike Leake (5-2, 2.75)
Saturday: Tyler Lyons (2-1, 2.66) vs. Mat Latos (5-0, 2.90)
Sunday: Lance Lynn (8-1, 2.76) vs. Bronson Arroyo (6-5, 3.38)

Now, with all due respect to the Cardinals’ seemingly magical ability to produce Cy Young clones, I only really believe in Adam Wainwright’s numbers. Lyons has only 20 major league innings and there is nothing in his minor league track record to indicate this kind of ability while Lynn is benfitting from an impossibly low home-run rate. Yes, the Cardinals have good pitching, but they’ve also been lucky. They have a clear advantage Friday as do the Reds on Saturday. I believe Sunday is a wash.

Now let’s take a look at the offense (through Tuesday):

Yadier Molina R .348 .386 .478 139 C
Allen Craig R .312 .356 .459 125 1B
Matt Carpenter L .323 .407 .470 144 2B
Pete Kozma R .245 .302 .302 69 SS
David Freese R .280 .352 .392 107 3B
Matt Holiday R .249 .338 .418 109 LF
Jon Jay L .238 .314 .342 83 CF
Carlos Beltran S .307 .346 .525 139 RF

The Reds and Cardinals stack up pretty evenly on offense. Each team has a big hole at short (though I think Cozart is a better hitter than Kozma in the long run) and each has a few hitters who have been fantastic this season.

I suppose I could beat around the bush a bunch more, but the long and short of it is that these two teams are both very good, they match up well, and this should be a heekuva series. I’m excited to watch it.