Let’s hope that the Astros send the crowd home on a positive note for Father’s Day.
After back-to-back eleven inning games, the Astros aim to take the series against the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
In the Astros win last night, George Springer brought the heroics via his walk-off RBI single as the Astros bounced back in the eleventh inning from another late game meltdown from Ken Giles. Starter Dallas Keuchel pitched well as he only surrendered two runs and no walks in seven innings of work. So progress in the right direction!
Outside of the first inning though, the Astros offense couldn’t muster up much until late against Reds starter Cody Reed, who was making his major league debut. The Reds third overall prospect per MLB Pipeline struck out nine Astros in his debut. The offense as a whole struggled at various times with strikeouts and leaving runners on base (15). However, the Astros did generate 13 hits and five walks so the opportunity to score was present. A determining factor in today’s game could be taking advantage of those opportunities.
The Astros will look to get within two games of .500 this afternoon. But to get there, the team will have to go through another left-hander in Brandon Finnegan.
Another player from the Johnny Cueto deal involving Kansas City, Finnegan has been arguably one of the Reds best starters in 2016. While his peripherals (4.80 FIP, 4.95 xFIP) aren’t great, he has kept his ERA in the mid-three range. But as Finnegan improves he should become one of the stalwarts of the Reds rotation. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen today against the Astros.
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The Astros will counter with right-hander Mike Fiers. While Fiers overall numbers don’t greatly impress, he has been a valuable starter in the Astros rotation that can eat up some innings. And he has surrendered more than four runs in just one start this season.
Last season, Fiers finished 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA against the Reds in two starts. He did surrender eight runs in eleven innings of work, but only four of those runs were earned. We will find out if he can replicate any success today against a Reds team that is slightly different than what he may remember from his time as a Milwaukee Brewer.
The Astros offense will need to get off to solid start against Finnegan, a pitcher they are seeing for just the second time. Unlike the first two games of this series, the Astros offense can’t afford for multiple scoring opportunities to go to waste. And the Astros bullpen may need a break fairly soon after these back-to-back extra inning affairs so it could be imperative that Fiers goes at least seven innings. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Happy Father’s Day from everyone here at Climbing Tal’s Hill!
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs & Baseball-Reference**