After a tight one-run win for the Cincinnati Reds (57-86) in the series opener Thursday night, they continue this rare five-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals (84-60) tonight. Jack Flaherty will start for the Cardinals, while the Reds are going with a bullpen game. Fernando Cruz will be the opening pitcher.
- When: 8:15 pm ET
- Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
- Weather: 80 degrees, mostly sunny
- TV: Bally Sports Ohio
- Radio: 700 WLW
St. Louis Cardinals
|LF T.J. Friedl||2B Brendan Donovan|
|2B Jonathan India||SS Tommy Edman|
|SS Kyle Farmer||1B Paul Goldschmidt|
|DH Jake Fraley||3B Nolan Arenado|
|1B Donovan Solano||LF Corey Dickerson|
|RF Aristides Aquino||DH Albert Pujols|
|CF Nick Senzel||RF Lars Nootbaar|
|3B Spencer Steer||CF Tyler O’Neill|
|C Austin Romine||C Andrew Knizner|
Except for Nick Senzel, no one on the current 26-man roster has faced Flaherty more than three times.
*Cruz’s stats are from Triple-A Louisville.
After pitching to a 2.89 ERA with 23 saves in 56 games at Triple-A Louisville this season, Cruz finally earned his way to the major leagues 15 years after he was drafted. And he’s been stellar in his limited appearances with the Reds. In 6.1 innings, Cruz has struck out seven while walking four and allowing only one run. He started as the “opener” in a bullpen game on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park against the Pirates and will get that same assignment tonight against the Cardinals.
Right-hander Raynel Espinal was called up when Justin Dunn went on the IL and is most likely to pitch after Cruz. He made one appearance, giving up two hits and one run in 2.1 innings on Tuesday night against the Pirates. He got the loss when the Reds failed to score the rest of the game. Espinal has been in three organizations this season (Giants, Cubs, and now Reds), and has a 5.63 ERA in 102.1 innings at Triple-A. It hasn’t been a great year for him, but his strikeout rate has been between 23-27% in all three organizations.
Flaherty has had a injury-riddled season in 2022. He made three starts in June after starting the season on the IL and being out for more than two months. Flaherty saw limited action in those three starts; however, pitching just eight innings. He gave up five runs in six innings through the first two starts, but in two innings against the Cubs on June 26, he allowed one hit and struck out two in facing 11 batters. That would be his last start for awhile. The Cardinals placed him back on the injured list the next day with a right shoulder strain and transferred him to the 60-day injured list on July 11. The Cardinals activated Flaherty September 5, and he’s made two starts since then, pitching five innings in each.
In 2019, Flaherty threw nearly 200 innings and had a 2.75 ERA with 231 strikeouts. And then came the shortened season where he made only nine starts, followed by an abrupt end to his season with an oblique injury in 2021. The Cardinals hope Flaherty can return the pitcher he was in 2019 when he was considered one of the best pitchers in the league.
News and Notes
Here’s a fun stat about the Reds’ opener tonight, Cruz.
Fernando Cruz will start at pitcher for the Reds today just 3 days after starting at pitcher for the Reds vs Pittsburgh.
That will be shortest stint between starts by a Reds pitcher since Ramon Ortiz started 3 days apart on 6/29 & 7/2/2005. (see note in next tweet)
— Joel Luckhaupt (@jluckhaupt) September 16, 2022
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been aggressively rooting for the Reds to avoid the 100-loss mark. I made a bet with my co-worker in early April (before the 3-22 start) that the Reds would not lose 100 games, and it has come down to the very end of the season. So, here’s to the Reds winning six more games and giving me a free lunch, but if they do lose 100, at least this bet gave me a sense of passion in September for a team that’s 30 games below .500.