Fresh off rout, Reds aim to stay afloat in clash vs. Cards

Field Level Media

September 30, 2023 at 11:30 am.

The Cincinnati Reds will try to keep their slim wild-card hopes alive on Saturday night when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Reds (82-78) routed the Cardinals 19-2 Friday in the opener of the three-game series to remain 1 1/2 games behind the Miami Marlins (83-76) in the race for the National League’s third wild-card slot.

“It was exactly what we needed, in a lot of ways,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “We know we have to win. To get off to a start like we did, I thought, was really important.”

But Miami’s magic number to clinch the league’s final playoff spot shrunk to one Friday. The Marlins hold the tiebreaker over the Reds and Chicago Cubs (82-78).

Right-hander Connor Phillips (1-0, 5.66 ERA) will make his fifth career start for the Reds on Saturday. He came from the Mariners in 2022 as the player to be named later in a trade that sent Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to Seattle.

Phillips struck out 154 in 105 minor league innings this year. In his most recent start with the Reds, he allowed three runs on five hits and struck out nine in five innings in a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Saturday.

This will be his first career start against St. Louis.

The Cardinals will start rookie left-hander Drew Rom (1-4, 7.98), who will get one more chance to establish himself ahead of spring training in 2024.

Rom, 23, is coming off a 12-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday. He allowed eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

“There are some good things to take away from this. There are also a bunch of negatives from this game,” Rom told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You live and you learn.”

Missed location, especially on off-speed pitches, did Rom in against the Padres.

“Too much of where they do all their damage,” he said. “If you’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to make you pay all day long.”

The Cardinals’ coaching staff also noted that Rom’s velocity dipped from his season average of 90.4 mph. That slippage made it harder for him to set up his breaking pitches.

“Sometimes, yeah, I think to myself I’m trying to get strike one, and then after the first hit or something like that it will start to creep up as I get more comfortable,” Rom said. “I think that has to be a mental thing for myself to go out there and be comfortable from pitch one. Go out and attack.”

Rom’s previous career appearance against the Reds came on Sept. 8. He allowed four runs on seven hits — including homers by Hunter Renfroe and Nick Senzel — in 3 2/3 innings in a game the Cardinals won 9-4.

Ahead of this series, the Reds placed Daniel Duarte on the 15-day injured list with shoulder inflammation and promoted fellow right-hander Carson Spiers from Triple-A Louisville. Spiers allowed one hit over three scoreless innings to earn the save in the Reds’ blowout victory on Friday.