St. Louis left-hander Steven Matz will make his first start for St. Louis since May 22 on Sunday when the Cardinals look to sweep their three-game series against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
Matz (3-3, 6.03 ERA) will come off the 10-day disabled list after recovering from a shoulder strain. In his final rehabilitation start for Triple-A Memphis, he threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits.
“I felt good,” Matz said. “I feel really comfortable after last night about where my stuff was.
“I wasn’t super-efficient, got through 4 1/3 with (81) pitches. But I got good results, and I was competitive and felt like I had more in the tank. I think that was kind of the idea, coming out and feeling like I could keep going.”
Matz spent nearly two months rebuilding his shoulder strength after lasting just four pitches in his May 22 start vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“This is the best I’ve felt in a while,” Matz said during his recovery. “Really happy. A lot of credit to the trainers, who put me on a great program right away.”
Matz earned a 4-2 victory over the Reds on April 22, holding them to a run on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati.
After winning five consecutive games, the Reds have lost three of their last four — and their bullpen became taxed Saturday when starting pitcher Nick Lodolo lasted just two innings.
The Reds will give rookie right-hander Graham Ashcraft (4-2, 4.45 ERA) his 11th career start. In his last outing, he allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings against the New York Yankees.
In his previous start against the Cardinals, he allowed four runs on nine hits on June 12.
“I do think the next step will be a little bit more swing and miss as we go,” Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson said. “Once he gets that, it’s over.”
Reds second baseman Jonathan India hit a leadoff home Saturday to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He is 9-for-31 in that span with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs.
“He’s gotten back into the flow of playing after being injured for most of the year,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He does whatever he can to help us win a game. When he does that, the results follow.”
The Reds placed pitcher Dauri Moreta on the 15-day injured list and summoned Ryan Hendrix from Triple-A Louisville to replace him.
Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (back stiffness) sat out Saturday’s game and also opted out of Tuesday’s All-Star Game. He is questionable for the series finale.
“It’s been a problem lately,” Arenado said. “Haven’t really had a whole lot of days off and haven’t had a whole lot of time with the stretch we have gone on and the grind we have been through. If this was earlier in the year, it would probably be like a two, three-day thing. Take off, you know what I mean? But we haven’t had the time to do that. It just doesn’t feel good. It’s been a grind for about a month now.”
–Field Level Media