Houston Astros +135 at Cincinnati Reds -145 (Total:
Wandy Rodriguez vs Mike Leake
The Reds had their three game win streak snapped in disappointing fashion last night, as newly acquired closer Sean Marshall allowed a three run homerun to Angel Pagan in the 9th. The 6-5 loss spoiled a decent outing from Homer Bailey, who has to be a bit edgy hearing the footsteps of Aroldis Chapman’s bullpen dominance and eventual transition to the starting rotation.
However, it does appear for the time being that the Reds offensive draught is behind them and their run coring woes are alleviated. They will try to get back to their winning way and the .500 mark when they host predicted cellar-dweller Houston tonight at Great American Ballpark.
The Astros have a pretty lousy 7-12 record, but this is an interesting case where the record doesn’t jive with their numbers. The Reds, who are basically .500 have a -8 run differential this season. The Astros, meanwhile, are the only team other than the Cardinals in the Central Division with a positive differential, at +8 (89 for, 81 against). The correlation between run differential and total wins is eerily consistent year after year for about 85-90% of the league. It is possible that Astros will be that rare exception, but what that stat tells us, is the so far this season the Astros are far better than their 7-12 record.
Tonight’s pitching matchup also favors the Astros. Wandy Rodqiguez has been excellent this season, especially in his last two starts, posting a 0.64 ERA and tossing seven scoreless innings against the red-hot Dodgers last week. Very quietly, Wandy has been one of the best lefties in the league over the past few seasons. His 3.24 ERA since 2009 is second best among left-handed starters in the National League, trailing only reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s starter Mike Leake has had his share of troubles in the early going. More of a finesse pitcher, Leaker depends on getting ahead of hitters by throwing strikes and nibbling around the corners to get balls that are hit, but not hard enough to do damage. This year, batters seem to have adjusted and are coming to the dish looking to swing early before the fall behind in the count. Through three starts, Leake is toting a 6.50 ERA, and in his career he is just 2-3 with a 4.65 ERA against the Astros.
I think the Reds are the better team, particularly defensively, but the line tonight is a generous one for the Astros considering the teams play thus far in 2012 and the favorable pitching matchup .
Free Pick: Houston Astros +135