|Roy Oswalt||Rick Helling|
|17 - 11, 2.84||1 - 0, 3.13|
Looks like giving up home runs to Adam Everett and Chris Burke were the lightly-slugging straws that broke the camel's back.
Victor Santos had been pitching poorly for the Brewers, but when he gave up seven runs and eight hits over only 3-1/3 on August 21 to the punchless Astros, well, Ned Yost knew some kind of change had to be made.
So beginning August 27, journeyman Rick Helling was inserted into the Milwaukee rotation.
Victor Santos' absence will absolutely make the Astros' hearts grow fonder, but hopefully, Helling's performance will be closer to what Santos might have offered, rather than to what, let's say, the other Brewer missing from their rotation right now, Ben Sheets, might have done.
Helling has made three starts so far, and while none have been lights out, only the first one against Atlanta, on the 27th of August, was subpar. He only went 4 innings in that one, giving up 3 runs, but since then, he's given up 2 over 6-1/3 to the Padres, and none to the Reds over five.
Jose Vizcaino of all people has the longest and most solid record against Helling, having gone 5 for 15 lifetime. Bagwell, for what little it's worth, is 5 for 19 with 3 doubles. With Roy pitching, maybe this would be a good game for Chavez to start: Ausmus has hit .227 over a team-high 22 at bats against Helling, although he's snuck in three extra base hits. Chavo hasn't faced Helling yet, but could he be worse?
Roy, of course has pitched some of the best games in his career against Milwaukee. Back in 2001, Oswalt both established his career-high in strikeouts and threw his first complete game shutout. Then Roy threw another complete game shutout at the Brewers in April of last year. Of the four times Roy has gone the distance without giving up a run, two times it has been against Milwaukee. This year, Oswalt has given up 2 runs over fifteen innings to the Brewers, striking out 11 while walking three.
But because of that recurring little problem Houston has had with offensive produtivity, he's only 1 - 1 in those two games.
Jon Lieber vs. Ismael Valdez in Philly, and I'd say it's therefore probably a little bit better than one in four that the Astros leave this particular Sunday with a a game and a half lead in the WC.