In their “Farewell to the NL” tour, the Houston Astros pulled off the shock in game one of the series as they did the unthinkable and beat Aroldis Chapman and the Reds by a 5-3 score. The Reds bounced back last evening with a 5-1 win behind the effort of Bronson Arroyo.
Today, the Reds send NL Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto to the mound as he seeks his 18th win if the season. Things look bright for the Good Guys as Cueto is 11-1 in day games. In his 14 day starts, he also owns an impressive 1.87 ERA and 0.986 WHIP. Something about those Red jerseys? Possibly. Despite the hiccup in his last day outing, a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies, Cueto will vie to re-emerge as the favorite as the NL’s top pitcher.
And what is constantly mentioned for Cueto’s 2012 season is his brilliance at Great American Ball Park. At home, he is 9-2 and the owner of a 2.50 ERA and 1.028 WHIP in what many term as one of baseball’s most hitter friendly parks. Opponents are only hitting .234 against him at GABP.
The Astros would appear to be just the right tonic in which Cueto can bounce back from his last day effort. Maybe not. Hate to be a bit of a buzzkill here, but Cueto is 2-5 with a 3.59 in 11 lifetime starts against Houston. The good news is that this season Cueto is 1-0 and held the Astros to seven scoreless inning in his only 2012 outing against them.
One thing that might work against Cueto is his unfamiliarity with the Astros hitters. Jason Castro has the most plate appearances versus Cueto with a whopping 8. But it could also help as the current configuration of Houston owns a .116 batting average against the Reds ace. Of course, unfamiliarity is a two-way street.
Cueto does lead the NL in ERA (2.58) and leads all of baseball in ERA+ (165). A win today would give him 18 for the season and put him a tie for wins along with R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez. A win could also put the right-hander back at the top of the list among the NL Cy Young candidates.