REDS (63-72) AT CARDINALS (75-59)
Game 1: 1:05 p.m. ET; FS-M, FS-O, MLB.TV
Game 2: 7:05 p.m. ET; FS-M, FS-O, MLB.TV
The visiting Cincinnati Reds (-1) and St. Louis Cardinals (+1) continue their weekend marathon at Busch Stadium on Sunday with their second straight doubleheader.
“Not only do we have four games in two days, but we also have a day game when we get back to Cincinnati, too,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart told MLB.com about the Reds’ long holiday weekend. “So five games in, like, two-and-a-half days. It’s going to be rough, but you’ve got to try not to think about it.”
The Cardinals swept Saturday’s doubleheader 10-6 and 3-2 to increase their National League Central lead to 2 1/2 games over the second-place Chicago Cubs (-1.5). They have won 17 of their last 21 games.
The Reds are headed the other direction with six losses in their last nine games.
Cincinnati will send right-handers Tyler Mahle (2-10, 4.93 ERA) and Luis Castillo (13-5, 3.21) to the mound for this twin bill while the Cardinals will counter with their own pair of righties, Miles Mikolas (8-13, 4.32) and Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-1, 3.76).
Mahle, originally recalled as the 26th player for Saturday’s doubleheader, will make his first big-league start since July 19. He didn’t factor in the decision in the game, a 12-11 loss to the Cardinals, and he felt hamstring discomfort on his final pitch.
In his last two starts before landing on the injured list and then returning to the minors, Mahle allowed 14 runs (10 earned) on 19 hits in 9 2/3 innings.
He is 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals this season and 1-2 with a 6.10 ERA in four career starts against them.
Mikolas will try to build on his last start, a 6-3 victory at Milwaukee last Tuesday. He allowed one run in six innings after allowing 16 runs (15 earned) in 16 innings over his three previous starts.
He is 0-3 with a 6.43 ERA in four starts against the Reds this season and 2-3 with a 4.83 ERA in nine career appearances against them, including seven starts.
In Game 2, Castillo will seek a much better outcome than his last performance against the Cardinals — a 13-4 loss Aug. 16. He allowed eight runs on nine hits (three of them homers) in 4 1/3 innings in the game.
Castillo is 1-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals this season and 2-4 with a 4.26 ERA in nine career starts against them.
Ponce de Leon is 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in two career starts against the Reds. He rejoined the Cardinals for September after posting a 0.93 ERA during a five-start span for Triple-A Memphis.
While in the minors he made some mechanical corrections to his delivery.
“Not everything was traveling toward home plate, so I’m coming across, the ball is sideways and it’s hard to command pitches like that when you’re inconsistent towards home,” Ponce de Leon explained to reporters. “Once I got that consistent delivery, and just direction toward the catcher, that’s when everything started coming out of the same arm slot.”
Cardinals outfielder Jose Martinez (shoulder strain) will return from his rehabilitation assignment for this doubleheader. Relievers Junior Fernandez and Mike Mayers will rejoin the bullpen from Memphis with the September roster expansion and Andrew Knizner will return as the No. 3 catcher.
–Field Level Media