Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds @ Texas Rangers - Cook-Off

Proto-Ron Washington - USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers return home following a 5-1 road trip to take on the Cincinnati Reds for the first time since the 2007 season

Series Schedule:

Friday, June 28 7:05: RHP Johnny Cueto vs. LHP Martin Perez

Saturday, June 29 6:15: RHP Mike Leake vs. RHP Nick Tepesch

Sunday, June 30 2:05: RHP Mat Latos vs. RHP Yu Darvish

What's the most divisive topic on LSB? It's not what to do with Jurickson Profar or the competency of Ron Washington. It's not which FSSW Girl is more attractive or even whether or not bunting is good baseball strategy. No, if there's one debate that rages harder than the rest, it comes down to a simple question: Beans or no beans?

Whether or not you fall on the side of no beans (hot dog sauce) and demand that the pot stays traditional, or if you rally for a heartier meal with beans (stew) for your favored delicious dish, we can finally lock arms and come together against a common enemy. The Chili Wars reach the boiling point this weekend as Cincinnati-style comes to Texas.

How To Make Cincinnati Chili

Recipe Type: Chili, Pasta
Cuisine: Cincinnati, Ohio
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 90 min

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (hamburger)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked dried spaghetti pasta
Toppings (see below)

Preparation:

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, sauté onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked.

Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).

Ladle Cincinnati Chili mixture over the cooked spaghetti and serve with toppings of your choice.

Oyster crackers are served in a separate container on the side.

Toppings:
Oyster Crackers
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Chopped Onion
Kidney Beans (16-ounce) can

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That's right, they put chocolate in their chili. Forget beans or no beans, they ladle their chili onto a bed of pasta! Heathens! Scoundrels!

I'll accept nothing less than taking this series three-way as in a three game sweep of these chili heretics.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the Queen City Redlegs:

  • Martin Perez: 1-1, 3.65 K/9, 2.19 BB/9, .295 BABIP, 70.5% LOB, 4.02 FIP, 4.23 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last two starts: 5 runs allowed in 12.1 innings
  • Johnny Cueto: 4-1, 7.55 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, .233 BABIP, 79.8% LOB, 3.95 FIP, 3.24 xFIP, 0.5 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 18.1 innings

Advantage: Following a breakout 2012, Johnny Cueto has had some injury issues this season which has limited him to only eight starts in 2013. In his last outing, Cueto allowed seven runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 4 1/3 innings. It was arguably Cueto's worst start in over two years, so, unless he's worked out the kinks between then and now, perhaps the Rangers are seeing him at the right time. Otherwise, Cueto has been solid to excellent when healthy over the last few seasons.

Martin Perez is making his home debut and first start at The Ballpark since September 26, 2012 when he allowed five earned runs to the Oakland A's in the shortest start (2/3 of an inning) of his young career. But that's the bad news. The good news is Perez is coming off arguably the best start of his career in St. Louis against the Cardinals when he allowed two earned runs in seven innings against a top shelf offense. Perez looks to build on that outing against another NL Central opponent.

Weird fact: All three of Perez's starts this season will now have come against National League teams.

  • Nick Tepesch: 3-6, 6.37 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, .289 BABIP, 70.3% LOB, 4.36 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 12 runs allowed in 14.1 innings
  • Mike Leake: 7-3, 5.87 K/9, 1.86 BB/9, .285 BABIP, 82.4% LOB, 3.60 FIP, 3.78 xFIP, 1.4 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 23.0 innings

Advantage: Nick Tepesch is also coming off a solid start against those Cardinals. Tepesch went 5 2/3 innings and allowed only a solo HR as he traded outs with Adam Wainwright before tuckering out in the 6th. While Tepesch hasn't had a win since mid-May, he's had several solid outings since then that have kept the Rangers in ballgames. After a rough patch in the middle of this month, it was great to see Tepesch assist with the sweep of the Cards.

Now Tepesch has to work on getting himself through six or seven innings more frequently while limiting the damage when facing an order for the third time.

Mike Leake has been on quite a roll. Leake has allowed three or fewer runs in every start since May 8 which spans eight starts. During those eight starts he's averaged around seven innings per. He's basically been a quality start machine. He doesn't strike out many guys but he also doesn't walk anyone all while producing an excellent GB% (52%). Frankly, he sounds very annoying.

  • Yu Darvish: 7-3, 12.07 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, .258 BABIP, 81.2% LOB, 3.14 FIP, 2.57 xFIP, 2.8 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 18.1 innings
  • Mat Latos: 7-1, 8.71 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, .299 BABIP, 74.7% LOB, 3.02 FIP, 3.34 xFIP, 2.3 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 18.2 innings

Advantage: Yu, Yu, Yu, Yu. Yu Darvish's last start in New York was maybe the first time I've been frustrated with him since mid-summer last year. While he only allowed three runs, they all came on solo dongs to the likes of Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner, and Jayson Nix. Yuck. The Yankees' crippled offense is one that Darvish should have been able to handle and he turned a 3-1 lead into an eventual loss because it seemed like he ventured away from his fastball a little too much. The Rangers are 8-2 in their last ten games. Those two losses have come in Darvish starts. It's inexplicable. Darvish hasn't been the winner in a game this month and this is his last chance.

With all that venom spewed, there's still no one I'd rather watch and I'm certainly looking forward to Yu Darvish vs. Joey Votto: Round II.

Facing Darvish will be Mat Latos who is having a fantastic year himself. In his last outing, Latos had a career-high 13 Ks against the Diamondbacks in 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball. After the Reds gave up a ton (Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal and Edinson Volquez) to acquire Latos from San Diego, Latos went out and had a solid year for the Reds in 2012 and has been even better this season. He's now wrestled the team ace title from Cueto, and, like many starts with Darvish on the mound, this has all the makings of a fun match-up.

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Cincinnati Reds (45-34, 3rd Place in NL Central)

Rangers' 2013 Record vs. Cincinnati: N/A (Haven't played since 2007)

Cincinnati's Recent Results: Swept in two-game series in Oakland

Cincinnati's 2013 Road Record: 19-20

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 111/112 - Runs: 114/116

SB Nation Reds' Blog: Red Reporter

Match-up: (as of 06/28) Rangers Reds Advantage
Batting (RAR) -8.5 (15th) -13.7 (18th) Comparatively barely acceptable
Base Running (RAR) -5.4 (29th) 0.7 (14th) The Rangers are so slow
Starters (RAR) 36.3 37.6 Hotly contested
Bullpen (RAR) 32.5 (3rd) 11.1 (19th) The Rangers' true strength
Defense (UZR) 9.3 (6th) 8.8 (7th) Both of these teams can pick it
Overall (UZR + RAR) 64.2 44.5

These teams are built similarly

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale of 1-10: How likely would it be for you to enjoy a warm bowl of Cincinnati-style chili complete with spaghetti pasta, shredded cheddar cheese, and cinnamon-spiced meat sauce?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Mitch Moreland abuses the home run porch in his first home series since early June.)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 dongs allowed by Yu Darvish on Sunday afternoon?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Martin Perez tonight in his first home start of 2013?
  • Yea or Nay: The Rangers close out June with at least a .500 record for the month?
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