The Cincinnati Reds are anxiously waiting for first baseman Joey Votto to return from his rehab assignment, while the Houston Astros are reportedly scouting 50-year-old Roger Clemens. That tells you all you need to know about this weekend’s three-game series featuring the National League Central-leading Reds and the cellar-dwelling Astros. Cincinnati, which has an eight-game lead over St. Louis, enjoyed a rare off-day Thursday after a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. Votto has been out since July 15 after having two arthroscopic surgeries on his left knee, but he’s expected to be activated Saturday if doesn’t suffer any setbacks.
Houston is 2-13 over its last 15 games and owns the majors’ worst record at 40-91 (.305). The team is trying everything these days, including the possibility of signing Clemens next month. The Astros will be scouting Clemens when he pitches for the Sugar Land Skeeters on Sept. 7, and he could start for Houston one week later. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, pitched for the Astros from 2004-06. Houston recalled third baseman Matt Dominguez from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, and he’ll likely see extensive playing time down the stretch. The 23-year-old Dominguez went 3-for-4 against the Giants on Thursday.
Reds Astros Betting
When: 8:05 PM ET, Friday, August 31, 2012
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, FSO (Cincinnati), FS Houston (Houston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Mike Leake (6-8, 4.51 ERA) vs. Astros LH Fernando Abad (0-1, 3.62)
Leake rebounded from an awful outing against the Phillies and held the Cardinals to two runs in 6 2/3 innings last Saturday. He’s 2-1 with a 4.78 ERA through five starts this month, and he’s allowed four runs or less in four of those five outings. Leake is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts against the Astros this season.
Abad is set to make his second career start after allowing one run on 71 pitches over four innings in his first start last Saturday against the Mets. He’s 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in nine career relief appearances against Cincinnati. Abad has worked primarily as a reliever, but he went 15-11 with a 2.37 ERA in 48 career starts as a minor league starter.
1. Astros INF Marwin Gonzalez suffered a sprained ankle in Thursday’s game and is listed as day-to-day.
2. The Reds have won 35 of the last 49 games and 14 of the last 16 series against Houston.
3. Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has a 0.31 ERA against National League teams this season (two earned runs in 58 2/3 innings pitched)