The last time Nelson Figueroa started against the Reds was way back in 2002 when he pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers. Only 3 starters in that Reds lineup are still active in baseball: Adam Dunn, Russell Branyan, and Ryan Dempster, though both Jose Guillen and Bruce Chen also played. That's a long time ago. Figueroa has been in and out of baseball in the 8 years since then, and when he has pitched, it's mainly been out of the bullpen. He's made 6 starts for the Astros this year, and he's done okay, but his 23-17 K-BB ratio makes me believe the best move for the Reds is patience this evening. We'll see if that actually happens.
Bronson Arroyo is likely going to pass a milestone tonight. With 2.1 innings pitched, Arroyo will cross the 200 IP threshold for the 6th straight season, and 5th straight as a Red. The last Reds pitcher to throw 200 innings in 5-straight seasons was Bob Purkey from 1958-1962. Currently, only 2 pitchers have streaks of more than 5-straight seasons of 200 IP or more: Mark Buehrle, who needs 7.2 IP to reach 200 IP for the 10th straight season, and Dan Haren, who has 6-straight seasons of 200 or more innings. Remember when Jimmy Haynes was sold to us as "an innings eater?" Bronson openly laughs at Jimmy Haynes.
I'm not panicked. If the lead drops below 5 with more than 10 games left, perhaps I'll get a little worried, but even then I won't panic. If the lead gets down to 2 before the clinch, maybe I'll fret. But there's a reason you feel comfortable with an 8-game lead - it allows you to lose a few games on that lead and still have a big lead. Do I wish the Reds were playing better? Definitely. They've been sloppy over the last week, for sure. But I don't feel the playoffs slipping away from us. Not yet, at least.