Major League Baseball comes flying out of the All-Star break with five of the six division races closely contested.
Play resumes on Friday with all 30 teams in action and St. Louis at Cincinnati one of the marquee matchups. The current NL Central standings have the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates leading Cincinnati by one game and St. Louis 2.5 behind.
The pitching matchup for the weekend series opener is Adam Wainwright (7-8, 4.56 ERA) against Mat Latos (7-2, 4.13 ERA). Don Best will release the odds shortly for this 7:10 p.m. (ET) contest.
St. Louis is 4-2 against the Reds this season, 2-1 in Cincinnati. Both series came back in April with the ‘under’ going 4-2.
Wainwright’s numbers overall are disappointing, but he has allowed three runs or less in five of his last six outings. He could be rounding back into form after missing all of last year with an elbow injury and he’s 3-5 with a 4.25 ERA lifetime against the Reds.
Latos has had an up-and-down first season in Cincinnati after coming over from San Diego. However, he’s been great his last three starts at 2-0 with a miniscule .72 ERA. He also has 28 strikeouts and just four walks over those 25 innings of work.
The 24-year-old right-hander has struggled badly against the Cardinals in his relatively short career, 1-3 with an 11.37 ERA.
St. Louis has relied on offense this year at first in runs scored (4.95 per game) in the NL and fourth in MLB overall. Matt Holliday is having an MVP-type year with a .317 batting average, 14 homers and 56 RBIs. He can’t be pitched around with Carlos Beltran, David Freese and Yadier Molina also hitting well.
Note Molina (personal) is questionable for this contest, which would be a big loss both batting and behind home plate.
The Reds are having trouble at the plate with Joey Votto (.348) the only regular hitting over .300. They are weak at lead-off and the second hole, and Votto would have more than 48 RBIs with better hitters ahead of him.
Cincy has gotten it done with pitching, an ERA of 3.39 which is third in MLB. The team does have its own injury concern with third baseman Scott Rolen (back) questionable.
Weather could be an issue on Friday with an 80 percent chance of rain. There should be humid conditions, which means the ball could be traveling well.