If he extends his recent hot streak, though, he might not have much to worry about.
Leake seeks a fourth consecutive win as the Reds look to continue their recent home success against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, a day after Monday’s series opener was rained out.
Cincinnati (14-14) won its first five home games this season - two over the Astros - but dropped to 8-8 at Great American Ball Park home with a 9-5 loss to Florida on Sunday.
Reds starters, who have one of the worst ERAs in the majors at 5.28, have gone 9-1 with a 2.86 ERA during a 13-3 home stretch against Houston. The club has also thrived offensively during that span, outscoring the Astros 98-44.
Cincinnati, which ranks at or near the top of the NL with 147 runs scored and 35 homers, was held to a season-low two hits during Leake’s latest start, a 3-2 loss at Milwaukee last Tuesday. The right-hander (3-0, 4.40) allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings.
Leake, accused of shoplifting at a department store April 18, had the charge reduced to unauthorized use of property Friday.
“He pitched better, actually (since the incident),” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s something he wanted to prove to us. Hopefully, he’ll have some closure now.”
Leake, 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts against Houston, has gone 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his last three outings. Another solid performance could make it tough to take him out of the rotation when Cueto and Bailey return from rehabbing injuries.
Bailey is expected to pitch Thursday afternoon, when these teams will make up Monday’s rainout.
“We’ve got a plan,” Baker told the Reds’ official website about the three pitchers. “We don’t necessarily want to say or don’t necessarily want them to know yet. We don’t want them to get ahead of themselves. We want them to go out and pitch and do the best they can to win and go as far as they can go at this point.”
Houston (11-17) defeated Milwaukee 5-0 on Sunday, its second straight victory following a three-game skid.
Carlos Lee(notes) went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs before being carted off after colliding with teammate Angel Sanchez(notes) in the outfield. The slugger suffered bruised ribs, but X-rays and a CT scan came back normal. However, he was too sore to play Tuesday and there is no timetable for his return.
The left-hander dropped his third consecutive start Wednesday, allowing two runs over five innings of a 6-5 loss to St. Louis.
“It’s not going great, it is going tough for me personally,” said Happ, who allowed a season-worst seven runs in four innings of an 8-2 loss at Cincinnati on April 5.