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Matchup/Thread Game # 77 at Reds

[I comment on the ramifications at both the major league and the minor league levels of the game suspension here.]


Having taken their last two road series, and seven of ten overall, the Astros are now presented with another road series they can win. Cincinnati comes in losers of four straight, and the story with them is as it has been: great hitting no pitching. The Reds are number two in the NL in both runs scored and OPS, and last in ERA, BA against, and OPS against. They're also second to last in WHIP.

Even with the upturn in offense for the Astros (five runs scored or more in eleven of our last thirteen!), there is no question that the Reds have the superior lineup, even if the greatest offensive force overall might be wearing the Houston colors.

But any advantage the Reds might have with the bat is negated by the decided differential in pitching. While sixth in ERA, the Astros come in first in the NL in WHIP, first in strikeout to walk ratio, and third in OPS against.

While I usually just furnish the lineups, I'm providing a matchup by matchup comparison of the pitchers for this series for the preview chart, 'cause they're gonna be at least as important. Stated bluntly, if the Astros are gonna win this series, it will be because of terrible Reds starting pitching.

Kicking off the series for Cincinnati is the best proof so far that yours truly is quite the idiot. Although I'm not gonna bother to track the quote down, I know that I opined somewhere on the net prior to the season that I thought the Eric Milton signing was a good one.

So much for my prognosticating skills: Eric Milton has probably turned out to be the absolute worst signing of the year. $5.3 million spent for a 7.70 ERA and a 3 - 9 record is not what the GM's write home to Mama about.

Because of Milton's inflated ERA--which in turn is due to his having given up 27 (twenty-seven!) homers--I'd say Brandon Backe might have a shot tonight. Backe has been lousy himself, unable to rely on his curveball, then grooving his fastball when hitters are sitting on it. But tonight could be a rehab start for him: aware that he should get some support, he can stay with the curve ball a little longer, and try to re-master the bugger.

I'm going with the Astros, 9 - 6.


x Brandon Backe 5.31 .794 P1 7.70 .989 Eric Milton  
x Andy Pettitte 3.25 .664 P2 8.35 1.000  Luke Hudson
Wandy Rodriguez 6.86 .936 P3 4.11 .700 Aaron Harang x
x Roger Clemens 1.50 .503 P4 3.97 .793 Brandon Claussen
OPS Astro Pos Red OPS
.567 Brad Ausmus C Jason LaRue .770 x
x .841 Lance Berkman 1B Sean Casey .784
x .831 Craig Biggio 2B Rich Aurilia .715
.661 Adam Everett SS Felipe Lopez .894 x
x .934 Morgan Ensberg 3B Joe Randa .875
.591 Chris Burke LF Adam Dunn .942 x
.690 Willy Taveras CF Ken Griffey Jr. .837 x
.773 Jason Lane RF Wily Mo Pena .908 x