It's nearly the beginning of the season and it's never too soon to look at the upcoming schedule for the Cincinnati Reds.
For the first time since Houston joined baseball in 1962 the Astros and Reds will only play each three times in Houston from Sept. 16-18 thanks to some re-alignment in baseball. The Astros who have always been in the same division as the Reds whether it be the NL West or the NL Central will play their first season in the AL West this year.
Houston has played the Reds 838 times in franchise history which is the most against any team. Houston owns a 399-439 record against Cincinnati and went 5-12 last year against the Reds.
New manager Bo Porter has a lot to deal with as the team is rebuilding and has to deal with Angels, A's and Rangers. Porter has been a third base coach for the Nationals the last two seasons and held the same position in 2010 with Arizona.
Houston added Carlos Pena to help fill a void created by the move to the AL which is the DH position. Pena hasn't hit higher than .250 the last four seasons, but does has hit at least 18 homers 10 times in his career.
Here's a look at what the Astros may look like when they face the Reds.
Rotation (2012 Stats):
1. Bud Norris (7-13, 4.65 ERA, 165 Ks) has one of the best strikeout per nine inning ratio (8.84) since joining the majors and had three scoreless outings in September. Norris along with teammate Lucas Harrell have been discussed a possible candidates for a trade with St. Louis.
2. Lucas Harrell (11-11, 3.76 ERA, 140 Ks) had a strong showing in his first season as a starting pitcher tossing 193 innings including a complete game shutout against San Diego.
3. Phil Humber (5-5, 6.44 ERA, 85 Ks w/White Sox) tossed a perfect game in his second start of the season, but had his season derail shortly after and eventually was sent to the bullpen.
4. Alex White (2-9, 5.51 ERA, 64 Ks w/Rockies) was part of a Rockies rotation that mightily struggled last year. The 98 innings pitched are the most in his brief career.
5. Brad Peacock did not pitch in 2012 in the majors, but did show promise in his three appearance with the Nationals in 2011 as he sported a 0.75 ERA and went 2-0.
6. Erik Bedard and Edgar Gonzalez will both compete for a roster spot. Bedard had a setback after another injury while Gonzalez won his first major league game since 2009 after being called up in September.
Chia-Jen Lo will get a chance to compete for a bullpen spot after sporting a 1.94 ERA in 70 minor league games.
Hector Ambriz (1-1, 4.19 ERA, 22 Ks) appeared in 18 games after being called up in August.
Josh Fields was traded to Boston for now teammate Erik Bedard, but was claimed as a Rule 5 draft pick by the Astros.
Xavier Cedeno (0-1, 3.77 ERA, 36 Ks) appeared in 44 games, but the lefty specialist pitched in just 31 innings notching one save.
Rhiner Cruz (1-1, 6.05 ERA, 46 Ks) wasn't fooling many batters as they hit .297 against him in 55 innings.
Wesley Wright (2-2, 3.27 ERA, 54 Ks) had 20 holds in a career high 77 appearances.
Jose Veras (5-4, 3.63 ERA, 79 Ks w/Brewers) will get a chance to be the Astros closer despite having just five saves in seven seasons.
C. Jason Castro (87 games, .257 avg, 6 HR, 29 RBI) made a better impression with his time behind the plate in 2012 than he did in 2010 when he hit .205 in 67 games.
1B. Brett Wallace (66 games, .253 avg, 9 HR, 24 RBI) didn't play as much as he did in 2011, but did finish with a career high in homers and nearly matched his 2011 RBI total despite playing 49 fewer games.
2B. Jose Altuve (147 games, .290 avg, 7 HR, 37 RBI) was named to his first All-Star game as the 5-foot-5-inch second baseman scored 80 runs and swiped 33 bases.
3B. Matt Dominguez (31 games, .284 avg, 5 HR, 16 RBI) can be a large asset to the Astros offense if he can continue his small sample from last season and continue it throughout the season.
SS. Tyler Greene (116 games, .230 avg, 11 HR, 30 RBI w/Cardinals & Astros) benefited from being traded by the Cardinals as he raised his average and hit more homers in his 39 games with Houston.
LF. Chris Carter (67 games, .239 avg, 16 HR, 39 RBI w/A's) will get a chance to play full-time for the Astros and showed power while in Oakland, but he hit just .150 in the last month of the season.
CF. Justin Maxwell (124 games, .229 avg, 18 HR, 53 RBI) played in over 100 games for the first time in his career and showed he has the power, but a career .217 average is cause for concern.
RF. Fernando Martinez (41 games, .237 avg, 6 HR, 14 RBI) came over from the Mets and saw increased play after being called up in August.
DH. Carlos Pena (160 games, .197 avg, 19 HR, 61 RBI w/Rays) had his lowest home run total since 2006, but will get a chance to be the Astros DH and the Gold Glover could play some time at first.
C. Chris Corporan appeared in just 29 games for the Astros last season after 54 appearances in 2011.
1B. Nate Freiman could see his first action in the majors this season.
IF. Jacob Elmore drove in seven runs in 30 games for the Diamondbacks.
SS. Marwin Gonzalez appeared in 80 games and drove in 12 runs last season.
OF. J.D. Martinez played in 113 games and drove in 55 runs and hit 11 homers.
OF. Brandon Barnes drove in seven runs in 43 games.