The third part in this series sees the Astros take a trip up to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati for a three game showdown with the Reds. Last season was a conitinuation of a winning trend against our NL Central rival:
|Season||HOU record vs. CIN|
No Astro hitter has had more success against Cincinnati than Lance Berkman. A career OPS+ of 136 is Berkman's highest total against any one team in MLB who he has more than 50 career ABs against. The heavy right handed rotation that the Reds have had in recent seasons have struggled against Berkman when he hits from the left side. His splits of .364/.478/.815 at the GAP are downright scary.
Houston's past successes aside, this year's Cincinnati club heads into 2009 with a great deal of optimism. Ptichers Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang and Johnny Cueto, along with bullpen arms Bill Bray and Francisco Cordero help make up the strongest pitching staff the Reds have fielded in recent memory. Johnny Cueto came out of nowhere last season for the Reds, and an improvement in his K/BB rate could see him make a big jump in 2009 as well.
Offensively, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips are dynamic offensive players who are worth the price of admission. Jeff Keppinger is now an Astro, which leaves room for either Paul Janish or Adam Rosales on the Reds roster.
This is the first series in a three series road trip, and since it will be at an Astro friendly ballpark (historically), a strong start is extremely possible.