How do you hate a Brandon Phillips-less Reds team?

The Cincinnati Reds (2-1, T-1st in NL Central) come to town fresh off a series victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. On the downside for them, that loss was their season opener. The Reds aren’t expecting much this season with a very young team, but as with any in division rival, can cause problems because of how often the teams play.

The Cardinals (1-2, 3rd in NL Central) lost their opening series against the Cubs after winning Opening Day. The team received good starting pitching, but struggled to convert with runners in scoring position, a problem the team has had the last few years in general.

Game 4: Leake v Garrett

Mike Leake will make his season debut for the Cardinals against his former team, he spent five and a half seasons with the Reds before being traded and then signing a big five year deal with the Cardinals before the 2016 season. Last year Leake’s results were questionable, but all his fielding independent metrics were very good. The hope is that the defense will improve behind him, which will allow him to improve.

Leake posted a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings this spring for the Cardinals. He has a 4.05 ERA in 19 starts in Busch Stadium. He went 0-2 and posted a 7.25 ERA in four starts against the Reds last season.

Amir Garrett, the Reds’ #2 prospect according to MLB.com and a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball, will take the ball to make his Major League debut in the season opener. He posted a 2.55 ERA over 145 innings last year between Triple-A and Double-A. He had a 4.22 ERA over a team high 21 innings in spring training for the Reds. The left hander has a mid-90 mph fastball and two other off pitches he can use to produce outs.

Game 5: Wacha v Arroyo

Michael Wacha will get the first opportunity to put his strong spring results to the test in the second game of the series. Wacha posted a 2.42 ERA over 26 innings this spring as he is looking to re-establish himself as a key part of the Cardinals’ rotation after struggling through last season and suffering a recurrence of his stress injury. He is 16-8 with a 3.68 ERA in 41 starts and 7 relief appearances in Busch Stadium for his career. He was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts and a relief appearance last year.

Bronson Arroyo will be making his first big league start since July 15, 2014 where he went 5 innings and allowed just 1 earned run against the Dodgers before having Tommy John surgery. He would miss the 2015 season before signing with the Nationals for 2016. He threw 9 minor league innings before elbow soreness shut him down again. After another procedure in August, he was back in camp this spring with the Reds. He had a 4.70 ERA over 8 innings for the Reds this spring. He is 3-9 with a 5.33 ERA in 17 starts in Busch Stadium for his career.

Game 6: Martinez v Feldman

In his season debut, Carlos Martinez proved the hype was real as he shut down the Cubs over 7.1 innings. He struck out 10 and walked none. He was 2-0 with 3.46 ERA in 2 starts against the Reds last season. He is 15-13 with a 3.63 ERA in 37 starts and 36 relief appearances in Busch Stadium.

Scott Feldman didn’t even make it through 5 innings in the Reds’ season opener, allowing 3 earned runs in 4.2 innings of work. After a leadoff home run and all three runs scoring in the first two innings, he did settle in. Feldman has started just once against the Cardinals in his career, allowing 5 runs in 5.1 innings of work in 2013 while pitching for the Cubs. So he is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in 1 start at Busch Stadium for his career.

Who’s hot, who’s not

Yadier Molina went 3-for-9 with 3 walks against the Cubs. Meanwhile Randal Grichuk put together a great series, going 3-for-12 with a home run and 4 RBI with every one of those three hits driving in a run. *cough* clean-up hitter *cough*

Jedd Gyorko, meanwhile, has appeared in 2 games for the Cardinals so far this season and is 0-for-6 with 3 strikeouts. Probably don’t want to miss Brett Cecil‘s 36.00 ERA, allowing 4 runs over an inning of work.

I’m also going to give the hot nod to the entire Reds bullpen. They’ve had two quick exits by starting pitchers already this year and have had to pitch 12.1 innings, allowing just one run on 7 hits.

Cold on the Reds is right fielder Scott Schebler who is 1-for-9 so far this season. Joey Votto is right there too at 2-for-11 with a home run and no walks.

On the shelf

Trevor Rosenthal threw a bullpen session yesterday and may be back on April 9th, when he is expected to be eligible to come off the DL. It seems Meanwhile, Tyler Lyons should be beginning a Triple-A rehab assignment any day now.

The Reds are missing catcher Devin Mesoraco who is on rehab assignment in Double-A. Starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, who in 20 starts last year was the Reds’ best starting pitcher, is likely out for the year with a UCL sprain.