Atlanta Braves (68-61) vs. Cincinnati Reds (61-68)
Saturday, August 23, 2014: 7:10 p.m. at Great American Ball Park
Making his rounds through the National League for the first time on a consistent basis, Santana has enjoyed success against the senior circuit. Without the rigors of facing constantly stacked American League lineups, Santana has already gotten double-digit wins for the first time since 2011.
Santana’s last loss came all the way back on July 9 against the New York Mets. That was also the most recent start in which Santana has allowed more than three earned runs in a game.
Back on April 25, Santana allowed four runs on nine hits while striking out seven and defeating the Redlegs. That has been his only career start against Cincinnati with the previous nine years of experience coming with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (eight seasons) and Kansas City Royals (one season).
Here is the lineup he will face via the team’s Twitter account:
CF – Billy Hamilton (1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI)
LF – Skip Schumaker (yet to face Santana)
2B – Brandon Phillips (2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 K)
3B – Todd Frazier (1-for-2, 1 2B)
C – Brayan Pena (0-for-5, 2 BB’s, 1 K)
RF – Chris Heisey (yet to face Santana)
1B – Jack Hannahan (3-for-19, 1 2B, 3 BB’s, 6 K’s)
SS – Zack Cozart (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
P – Mike Leake (yet to face Santana)
Currently on pace for his first 200-inning season, Leake is also in the midst of what has arguably been his most consistent year. Not allowing more than five earned runs in any start, and not going shorter than five innings in any start, Leake has at least kept the Reds within striking distance for each and every game he has pitched in 2014.
He had a crack at the Braves back on April 26, but he turned in a seven-inning, eight-hit, four-run effort that put him on the losing side of the ball game. At the conclusion of that game, his ERA sat at a season high 3.82—it has not gone that high since (besides his first start).
In five career starts against Atlanta, Leake boasts a 2-2 record with a 2.91 ERA. His 1.09 WHIP against the Braves is the lowest for Leake against any team that he has faced at least three times.
Catching Leake on Saturday night will be Brayan Pena, who has only been behind the plate for Leake five times on the year. While his ERA is lower at 3.19 with Pena, compared to 3.70 with Devin Mesoraco, the sample size is significantly smaller.
Riding a seven-game losing streak into a nationally televised game, the Reds need a masterful effort from Leake like never before. Capable of spinning up a gem, the exhausted Reds bullpen needs both the bats to start thumping and the starting arms to start firing.