The Cincinnati Reds can help decide their playoff chances and where they finish in the division and it starts this week in St. Louis.
Coming off a 3-1 loss against Milwaukee on Sunday, the Reds (74-57) sit 2.5 games out of first place behind the Cardinals (76-54) and Pirates (76-54). On Monday the Reds begin a three game series in St. Louis, then head to Colorado for the weekend, and return home to face the Cardinals for four games.
Cincinnati will call on Mike Leake (11-5) to face Tyler Lyons on Monday while Mat Latos (13-4) looks to tie his career best 14 wins on Tuesday against Joe Kelly (5-3).Adam Wainwright (15-7) takes on Homer Bailey (8-10) in the series finale.
St. Louis currently leads the season series 8-4 and has scored 11 runs or more in three of the last four meetings including a 15-2 drubbing the last time the two teams squared off.
The trip to Colorado (61-71) may seem like just another series, but the Rockies won two of the three meetings in Cincinnati earlier this year. The Cardinals will also be playing a three-game series in Pittsburgh so the Reds wins and losses will be magnified over the weekend.
The Reds hope to have lefty Tony Cingrani back from the disabled list when the Cardinals head to the Queen City. Greg Reynolds (0-2) could pitch one more outing against the Rockies, who originally drafted him in 2006. Cingrani is one of three Reds (Latos and Sam LeCure) to record a victory this season against the Cardinals. Another twist in the next series with St. Louis will be the roster expansions that will happen on Sunday to give each team fresh arms out of the bullpen and off the bench.
The upcoming series will also be the first time this year that the Reds will have Ryan Ludwick in the order against St. Louis. Ludwick is a career .288 hitter with 35 home runs at Busch Stadium during his career.