The 24-year-old right-hander is off to a rough 0-5 start and will take a 6.21 ERA to the mound at Great American Ballpark for the series opener. Pitching at home doesn't figure to provide much of a lift for Leake, considering he hasn't made it out of the fourth inning in either of his last two starts in Cincinnati and sports an 8.53 home ERA on the season.
There were some positive signs in his last outing, though. Leake allowed three runs (one earned) and notched a season-high five strikeouts over six innings, but he settled for a no-decision Wednesday against the Mets.
"Of course, I felt like I needed to do something," Leake said after the eventual 6-3 Reds victory. "I was kind of a hole in the rotation. It was a matter of time where I was going to come around. I just need to string a few together. I'm not going to put the pressure on myself to do it. I will go out there with the same attitude I had tonight."
As for Braves starter Mike Minor, he's hoping Monday's series-opening start will be the one in which he finally starts to fill in the recent hole he's created in Atlanta's rotation.
Since turning in three straight quality starts from April 14-24, Minor has allowed six or more earned runs in four consecutive outings. He's conceded 27 earned runs in just 20 2/3 innings, raising his ERA from 3.42 to its current 7.09 mark in less than a month.
"I don't want to go out there every fifth day and people look at me as, 'Are we going to have another game like we did last week?' or 'Are we going to have to score a lot of runs this week because Minor's on the mound?'" the lefty said after his most recent mishap. "I feel like I let the team down, let myself down and the organization down. And the fans. I'm going to keep on working as hard as I can and try to get better every week."
Braves: Jones day to day, could return Monday
Chipper Jones sat out his second straight game with a bruised left calf Sunday, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said the veteran third baseman could return for Monday's series opener.
The 40-year-old Jones wasn't in the lineup Saturday or Sunday after being struck in the left calf with a ball off the bat of B.J. Upton in Friday's game. Once Jones returns -- which Gonzalez said would "hopefully" be Monday -- he plans to wear protective equipment on his lower leg.
"I'm going to have to wear a shin guard the rest of the season," said Jones. "If I get hit there again, then it's over."
Reds: Baker considering closer options
Despite not wanting to use Aroldis Chapman for the fourth time in five games, manager Dusty Baker indeed called upon the hard-throwing lefty to nail down the save in Sunday's victory over the Yankees.
The 24-year old Chapman pitched around an error and ended the game with a strikeout in a move that signaled a change Baker had hinted at over the weekend. Chapman appears to have, for now at least, replaced Sean Marshall as the club's closer.
"Chapman is my No. 1 candidate, but he isn't as good the second day [in a row], and last year, he wasn't nearly as good the third day," Baker said. "The only problem is we may have to use him two days [in a row] and somebody else one day ... until we figure this out."
One thing Baker was certain on, though, was his preference to avoid a potential closer-by-committee situation.
"I could but I'd rather not," Baker said. "Most good teams do [have one closer]. The bullpen by committee, I haven't seen it work too much. It makes my job harder. It makes their job harder. Everybody wants some continuity."
The Braves are 19-5 with Jones in the starting lineup this season and 7-11 without him.
The Braves and Reds not only split a two-game set a week ago, but they are dead even in the head-to-head series since the start of the 2001 season. Each club has won 38 of the 76 meetings, despite the Braves outscoring the Reds, 418-353, in that span.