Opening Day is finally here! The Cincinnati Reds (0-0) will begin 2016 at Great American Ballpark against the Philadelphia Phillies (0-0). The Reds may have lost a lot good players, but they have brought a bunch of young talented players back. Hopefully in 2016 we will see glimpses of the great young talent that will bring the Reds back to being a contender.
The Phillies are in the same boat at the Reds. They too are in a full rebuilding mode after a nice run of success. Last season, the Phillies were the only team in baseball to finish with a worst record than the Reds. The Phillies went 63-99, while the Reds went 64-98. The Phillies are again projected to have the worst record in baseball at 65-97. The Reds are projected a little better at 73-89, but that is still the 4th worst record in baseball.
The following stats are 2016 ZiPS projections, with the exception of FBv (fastball velocity):
Watching Raisel Iglesias pitch was the most exciting thing about the 2015 Reds (at least for me). Iglesias finished 2015 with 104 strikeouts in 95.1 IP. His 9.82 K/9 was the 11th best mark in the MLB among pitchers with 90+ innings. Iglesias’ BB/9 (2.62) and HR/9 (1.04) were just slightly better than league average in 2015.
Igelsias is projected to drop a bit from his high strikeout rate, but overall his projected production looks good. He has shown signs of dominance. Last August, Iglesias had a 2.27 ERA and 0.76 WHIP, with 45 K and 10 BB in six starts. I know that I am certainly excited to see what he can do starting in the rotation from the beginning of the season.
The one glaring concern with Iglesias is how deep he can pitch into games. In 3 of his 16 starts last season, he didn’t make it out of the 4th inning. He did have a very promising stretch between July 27-September 2 where he pitched 6.0+ innings in 8 consecutive starts (including 7.0+ in the last 4 starts). There is also the overall innings concern, as he only pitched a total of 124.1 innings in 2015 (between the majors and AAA). Iglesias will likely be shut down at some point in the season to limit his innings.
Iglesias didn’t make his debut this spring until March 14th, and only pitched a total of six innings. It wasn’t because of an injury, but the Reds just wanted to be cautious with him. His numbers this spring: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 K, 2 BB.
Jeremy Hellickson is a 28-year old pitcher in his first year in Philadelphia. He was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Phillies over the off-season. Hellickson is coming off back-to-back tough, injury riddled seasons. Last season in 27 starts, he had a 4.62 ERA/4.42 FIP.
Hellickson was drafted in the 4th round in 2005 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Going into the 2011 season, he was the #11 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball Prospectus. Hellickson didn’t disappoint either, as he posted a 2.95 ERA in 29 starts for the Rays, and won the AL Rookie of the Year. Over 2011-12 with the Rays, he posted a 3.02 ERA in 60 starts. His peripheral numbers over that span were not good though. In 2011-12, he had a 4.52 FIP, mainly because of his low strikeouts (5.93 K/9) and high walks (3.22 BB/9).
His peripherals caught up with him in 2013, as Hellickson posted a 5.17 ERA in 31 starts. He had elbow problems and only made 14 starts in 2014. He was then traded to the Diamondbacks in the off-season. He is now looking to revive his career in Philadelphia. He had a fairly successful spring, posting a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 IP (10 H, 6 ER, 20 K, 7 BB).
There are no real surprises in the Reds lineup. Zack Cozart and his career .284 OBP hitting leadoff is a little weird, but the rest of the lineup is pretty good. If Price would move Cozart to 7th, and just simply move everyone else up one spot it would be perfect. The Reds are really hoping they can get bounce back seasons from Bruce and Mesoraco in the middle of the lineup.
There certainly aren’t a lot of household names in the Phillies lineup. The two big names you probably remember are Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, but they are no where near the players they once were. Both players are projected to put up a sub .700 OPS in 2016. The big hitter to watch is Maikel Franco. He hit .280/.343/.497 with 14 HR in 80 games last year. Another player to watch is CF Odubel Herrera. He lead the Phillies in 2015 with a 3.9 fWAR (6th best among NL OF), and hit .297/.344/.418 with 8 HR and 16 SB.
|1. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
2. Odubel Herrera (CF)
3. Maikel Franco (3B)
4. Ryan Howard (1B)
5. Carlos Ruiz (C)
6. Cedric Hunter (LF)
7. Peter Bourjos (RF)
8. Freddy Galvis (SS)
9. Jeremy Hellickson (P)
|1. Zack Cozart (SS)
2. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
5. Jay Bruce (RF)
6. Devin Mesoraco (C)
7. Adam Duvall (LF)
8. Raisel Iglesias (P)
9. Billy Hamilton (CF)
Historic start for Iglesias
Our friend Joel Luckahupt has some cool info on Iglesias getting the Opening Day start:
Reds Opening Day Roster
The Reds decided against putting Jose Peraza (the Reds #5 prospect who they acquired this off-season for Todd Frazier) on the roster to start the year. Steve Mancuso broke down the entire roster yesterday. Our own Doug Gray first broke the news yesterday that the Reds #2 prospect Robert Stephenson will make his major league debut on Thursday afternoon.
One of the toughest matchups to watch every year on Opening Day is the Reds vs mother nature. The Reds should win that battle this year. There is a 0% chance of precipitation from 2:00 to 8:00 pm. It will be 54 degrees at first pitch, and 48 degrees near the game end. It should be a good day for the pitchers, as there is projected to be 14 mph wind blowing in.
In case you needed any extra motivation for Opening Day, here is an awesome video from Evan Westendorf from back in 2012.
There is nothing better than Opening Day in the Queen City. Hopefully you were lucky enough to score a ticket. It is likely going to be a long year for our Redlegs, but it sure would be nice to see them start the year off with a win. If they do, thank the baseball gods for giving us the Phillies to start the year. Go Reds!