Astros/Reds: Series Preview


This eveing kicks off a three game set with NL Central divisional foe Houston Astros.The Astros are coming off a sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies and now embark on GABP. The Reds look to continue their winning ways after the opening series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Here’s a look at the starting matchups for each of the games.

Game 1
Tuesday @ 7:10 PM ET (records shown are against opponent unless noted otherwise)
J.A. Happ (0-0, 3.86) v. Mike Leake (1-1, 2.33)

Happ is coming off an oblique strain that saw his 2011 debut pushed back to this game. He’s only faced the Reds once…in 2009. In that outing as a member of the Phillies, Happ went seven innings, allowed six hits, struck out seven and permitted three runs. He also served up two home runs, both to Brandon Phillips.

Since Happ has only seen the Reds once,there are no players that have 10 plate appearances against him.

Leake faced the Astros three times in his rookie season of 2010. He has the trifecta of a win, a loss and a ND in those three outings. Here are some stats that reflect Leake’s 2010. In his first two outings against Houston, he was 1-0 in 13 IP, 12 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 SO and 0 HR. His last: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 so and 2 HR. Want to know how 2010 went for Leake? Simple compare these lines and you’ll get a great idea. Started off well, faded in the second half. There was a reason as Leake was shut down with shoulder fatigue.

As with Happ, there are no Astros with 10+ PA that have faced Leake.

Game 2
Wednesday 7:10 PM ET
Nelson Figueroa (2-1, 3.55) v. Edinson Volquez (0-0, 7.50 for season; 4-0, 1.34 v. Astros)

All of Figueroa’s decision came last season and in his only appearance at GABP, he pitched very well. He pitched 6.2 innings and did not allow a run. He also won that game while surrendering 6 hits, all singles. That should sit well for Astros fans.

But there are a couple of Reds that hit Figueroa well. Very well. One is Edgar Renteria with a .385 average. Another is Scott Rolen who owns a .364 average to go along with a home run and 3 RBI. Those are the only Reds that have 10 or more plate appearances against him.

For Volquez, the Astros just might be the team for him to face. Volquez owns the Astros and the numbers don’t lie. Check out his lifetime splits against the Astros: .198/.265/.314 with a SO/BB of 35/9. The SO represent the highest against any single team (with 4 or more appearances) in Volquez’s career and the SO/BB is the best as well. Oh, he also shows a WHIP of 0.980.

To add to all this success against the Astros, there are no current Astros that have hit Volquez. In fact, Carlos Lee is 0-10 in his career against him.

Game 3
Thursday 12:35 PM ET
Brett Myers (0-0, 1.29 for season; 3-3, 4.14 v. Reds) v. Sam LeCure (1-0, 2.57)

While Myers’ numbers aren’t all that bad, GABP has been cruel to Myers. For his career, Myers is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA at GABP. His last outing at GABP was one to forget: 5.2 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 7 SO, 3 HR.

See those two Reds that hit Nelson Figueroa? Those are the same that hit Myers as well. Renteria holds a .425 BA with a pair of homers and 8 RBI. Rolen is just slightly below Renteria’s average with a .421 BA. Rolen also has a homer and 4 RBI against Myers.

One Red that does have a hard time with Myers is Brandon Phillips. A .158 BA and one HR and 2 RBI. That homer and RBI came in Myers last outing referenced just above.

For LeCure, seeing the Astros should bring back some nice memories. It was against the Astros where he made his MLB debut last season. The result was also his first MLB victory. And that took place at GABP.

Hot and Cold

Reds Hot:
1. The Reds catching combo of Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez. Here’s the combined numbers: 9-12, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SO. Splits? Those are .750/.769/1.500. The OPS? 2.269. Hanigan leads the team in HR (2) and RBI (4).

2. Drew Stubbs. The question was if Stubbs could handle the leadoff spot while striking out at an alarmingly high rate. He has averaged a SO a game (3 for the season), but he has also walked twice (a good sign) to go along with 5 hits for a .538 OBP. That .455 batting average is a bit gaudy, but nice to see.

1. Scott Rolen. He didn’t exactly light up Arizona and that has translated a bit to the regular season. Hitting .182 after the opening series.

2. Jay Bruce. I list Bruce for only one reason and it’s not his .231 batting average. It’s the six punch outs. He’s just a tick off though as he showed a little bit in the last game in the series against the Brewers. Maybe all preseason hype surrounding this now 24 year old is already getting to him. Nah. He’ll be fine.

1. Hunter Pence. Not shocked by this one bit. Hitting .417. In fact, I believe if you look up “grinder” in a baseball dictionary, Pence’s pic by definition #2.

2. Carlos Lee. We said that Lee could be an integral part of the Astros offense for 2011. Even though the Astros are winless, Lee has pulled through on his end going 4-11 (.364) with a homer and 4 RBI.

1. Brett Wallace. Wallace was a question mark. Still is, too. .091 (1-11)?

2. Bill Hall. No bang for the buck yet with a .083 batting average (1-12).

On paper, this looks like another sweep. In reality, the ole saying applies…that’s why they play the games. The Reds cannot sell the Astros short. They dodge Wandy Rodriguez, so take advantage of that. Plus, Happ’s physically a question mark as well. With weather being on the cool side for tonight, it will be interesting if Happ will be able to go all out tonight. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if a change were made in order to save a bit of Happ’s season.