The Cardinals have reached the National League Championship Series each of the last two seasons, but the Reds are the defending NL Central champions. And St. Louis manager Mike Matheny is quick to point out that latter tidbit.
After the Reds ran away late with a 13-4 rout at Busch Stadium in the season-series opener on Monday, the two teams will tangle again Tuesday for bragging rights in what is sure to be a hotly contested division.
"We don't shy away from the fact that this is the team that won the Central last year," Matheny said. "This is the team that a lot of people are talking about. It's a great opportunity for us to go out and compete against a team that there are a lot of expectations for."
The first pitch Tuesday is slated for 8:15 p.m. ET in St. Louis. Monday was the first of 19 meetings between the two clubs this year.
Cincinnati finished nine games ahead of St. Louis last season, though the Cardinals ultimately played deeper into the postseason. The Reds were eliminated by the Giants in the NL Division Series before San Francisco ultimately beat St. Louis in the NLCS.
Bronson Arroyo will start for the Reds on Tuesday after using a strong spring to build momentum for his first start of the year. He limited damage against Angels, scattering three runs and eight hits over six innings and earning the win. This came after he allowed just eight earned runs in 23 Spring Training innings.
"My command was there, I felt like I kept a good tempo of the game," Arroyo said of his first outing.
He'll be up against a stacked Cardinals lineup and right-hander Lance Lynn on Tuesday. Lynn lasted just four innings in his season debut, as pitches up in the zone and some rusty mechanics elevated his pitch count in a hurry.
Reds: Struggles in St. Louis
• In their previous 27 series in St. Louis since the start of the 2003 season, the Reds are 3-22-2. Their only series wins in St. Louis were in May 2003, June 2006 and September 2011.
• Arroyo will be making his 34th appearance and 32nd start against the Cardinals (he's 8-13 with a 4.56 ERA in those games) and his 15th career start at Busch Stadium, where he's 3-6 with a 5.42 ERA.
• Dusty Baker needs just one win to tie Patrick Moran for fifth on the all-time list of most wins by Reds managers. Baker is 424-393 at the helm in Cincinnati.
Cardinals: Freese is back
• Third baseman David Freese was activated from the disabled list on Monday and inserted in the starting lineup, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his season debut.
Freese suffered a back strain on March 4 and played three Minor League games with Triple-A Memphis in a rehab stint. The 2012 All-Star and 2011 World Series MVP is a career .306 (38-for-124) hitter against the Reds with six homers and 19 RBIs.
• Lynn has struck out nine hitters in six career innings against the Reds.
• Though the Reds had a sizable advantage on the Cardinals in the standings last year, the Cards won eight of the 15 meetings between the two teams. St. Louis outscored Cincinnati, 60-46, in the season series.
• Cards closer Jason Motte will visit with team physician Dr. George Paletta on Tuesday, and is expected to receive an MRI as part of a follow-up exam for his right elbow. Motte hasn't picked up a baseball since feeling tightness in his elbow after appearing in a March 21 Grapefruit League game.