Cincinnati Reds vs. Houston Astros Preview and Pick – Bronson Arroyo vs. Roy Oswalt – Betting Odds

Cincinnati Reds (10-11) Bronson Arroyo, at Houston Astros (8-12)
Roy Oswalt, Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas, 8:05 PM EST, Thursday,
April 29th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Reds +155/Astros -165
Total: 7.5

The Cincinnati Reds will try and be rude guests and slip out of Houstons Minute Maid Park with a huge NL Central divisional series
road sweep Thursday night, but theyll have to pull it off by beating
the Astros noted Red-killer Roy Oswalt.

Cincinnati put themselves on the verge of the sweep by surviving
Wednesdays game two, 6-4, when closer Francisco Cordero escaped a
ninth-inning jam for his seventh save this season. The Reds, who got
seven solid innings out of rookie Mike Leake and took advantage of a
Hunter Pence three-run error to take an early lead, will need right-
hander Bronson Arroyo to snap out of his recent funk in order for the
Reds to have any chance to compete with Oswalt.

Tonights start for Oswalt and the Astros is huge.

After winning seven of the eight games they played before entering
the Reds series to get near .500 baseball after such a horrible
start, to get swept at home by the NL Central rival Reds would be a
severe blow to their moral and momentum. Add into the mix Oswalts
23-1 lifetime record against the Reds (30 starts), and this is about
as must-win as they come in the early going.

The guys out in Las Vegas setting the odds are fully aware of Oswalts dominance over the Reds too, as they opened the overnight
line with the Astros and their right-hander Red-killer as -165
favorites on the moneyline. The Reds and Arroyo are listed at +155 on
the dimeline, or even higher if you wager with a sportsbook that
offers reduced juice.

The over/under total opened at 7.5 and has held firm with one exception, as 5Dimes is the only offshore sportsbook on the Web that
is currently listing the total at 8 with increased juice on the under.

Just how good is Oswalt against the Reds?

Well, in 30 starts the righty has compiled some pretty gaudy numbers,
including a 2.58 ERA and a 1.107 WHIP with just a little .291 on-base
percentage allowed and a sub-700 OPS (.648). He made three starts
against the Reds last year too, and even though he never ended up
with a decision his lone outing against them at home in the Juice Box
(Minute Maid Park) was typical of his earlier results (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R).

The good news for the Reds is that they were able to beat the Astros
in three of those four games last year because they were able to get
into the Astros bullpen quickly. Oswalt only went past six innings
once, and the Reds were able to rally in the late innings. Drew
Stubbs (1-for-3, HR), Brandon Phillips (10-for-31, .848 OPS) and Joey
Votto (7-for-23, .725 OPS) have all had good success against Oswalt
too, so he must be really careful with a few players in the Reds lineup.

Cincinnati is hoping the Arroyo who pitched lights out against the
Astros last year shows up, and not the hippie goofball who got tagged
around in his last three outings (15 IP, 19 H, 19 R) by Florida,
Pittsburgh and the Padres, not exactly offensive juggernauts.

Arroyo was a perfect 3-0 in three starts last year against the
Astros, with a 1.96 ERA, a .268 OBP and a .635 OPS. In 23 innings the
righty only gave up 20 hits and five runs, with a ridiculous 11-to-1
strikeout to walk ratio to boot.

There are three regulars in the Astros lineup that have had plenty of success against Arroyo over the years, as Carlos Lee (1.024), Pedro
Feliz (1.227) and Hunter Pence (1.048) all have an OPS over one
against the righty (over 1.0 is raking!).

The Reds owned Houston last season, winning 12 of the 16 games
against them in the head-to-head series. Even more surprising is the
fact that they went 5-2 at Minute Maid Park last year, making them 14
of 18 and 7 of 9 over the last two seasons in Houston.

The Astros are 9-1 in Oswalts last 10 starts against the Reds at home.

If youre a fan of betting trends, you should be on the under
tonight. The under is a perfect 6-0 in Arroyos last six starts
against Houston, its also 6-1-2 in Oswalts last nine home starts
against the Reds, and its also 11-4 in the last 15 games at Minute

Badgers Pick: It really scares me to take Houston and their weak
lineup right now, but if a 23-1 mark against the Reds isnt enough to
sway you for a small wager I dont know what will. Take Oswalt at
-165 in a game that could easily go over because neither pitcher is
throwing all that well of late.