The Cincinnati Reds have the luxury of a 6 1/2-game lead in the National League Central as they wait for Joey Votto to return. But with the way Ryan Ludwick has been playing, Votto can take all the time he needs. The Reds split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs but have taken seven of their last nine thanks in part to Ludwick, who has six home runs in that span.
The Cubs reportedly locked up their shortstop to a big contract as they continue to focus on the future. Starlin Castro had three hits in Saturday’s nightcap after it was reported that he and the club had agreed to a seven-year, $60 million extension. Chicago is spending the rest of the season evaluating pieces such as Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters to see which players will join Castro in future playoff teams. The Reds don’t need to do much evaluating, they just need to keep winning series. A victory Sunday would make them 9-1-1 in 11 series since the All-Star break.
Cubs Reds Betting
When: 1:10 PM ET, Sunday, August 19, 2012
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), FS Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Mat Latos (10-3, 3.63 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.96)
Latos has allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his last 10 starts and worked seven scoreless innings in a no-decision against the New York Mets on Tuesday. The right-hander has not yielded more than five hits in any of his last four turns and has not lost since July 18. Latos has yet to face Chicago as a member of the Reds but went 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts against the Cubs when he was with the San Diego Padres.
Volstad is one of those players trying to make a good impression on the Chicago brass over the final weeks. The right-hander has yet to record a win since joining the Cubs in the off-season and is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA since returning to the rotation on Aug. 3. Volstad’s biggest problem has been the long ball as the sinkerball pitcher has surrendered 20 home runs in only 63 1/3 total innings. He gave up two blasts to the Reds on Aug. 9, with Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier going deep in a no-decision.
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1. Jackson hit his first major-league home run Saturday night but also struck out three times, giving him multiple strikeouts in five of his last six games.
2. Reds RHP Todd Redmond was the first person other than the regular five to start a game for Cincinnati this season when he took the mound on Saturday night. He suffered the loss.
3. Ludwick is batting .349 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs since Votto went down on July 15.