The Cincinnati Reds (1-0) will host the Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) for Opening Night in the Queen City. The new tradition in baseball of having an “opening night” the game after opening day is a great idea. Fans who may not be able to snag an expensive opening day ticket still get to see the team rolled out as if it was the actual opening day. The weather forecast doesn’t look promising tonight though (more on that below).

The Reds are coming off a thrilling opening day win. The Reds trailed for the majority of the game, but were able to score five runs in the 8th inning, and hang on for a 6-2 win. The Reds would love to get a series win, or even a series sweep before they move on to 9 consecutive games against the perceived top of the NL Central.

Programming Note: In addition to FOX Sports Ohio in Cincinnati, tonight’s game will also be on ESPN2 for out of town Reds fans.

Starting Pitchers

The following stats are 2016 ZiPS projections, with the exception of FBv (fastball velocity):

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals

The #17 overall pick from the 2014 draft will get a shot in the Reds rotation to start the season. Finnegan has bounced back and forth between starting and relieving over his short career. The crazy thing about Finnegan is that he has only pitched a total of 139.1 innings of professional baseball. He of course pitched in the College World Series and the actual World Series in the same year in 2014.

Full profile on Brandon Finnegan from Grant Freking

Finnegan’s projections reflect 14 starts and 25 relief appearances. He is projected to strikeout a lot batters, as he has done throughout his career. His issue will likely again be walks. It is important to remember as mentioned above that he has only pitched 139.1 innings in professional baseball. The ceiling is certainly high for Finnegan, but there will likely be growing pains as he tries to get there.

Finnegan got hit hard this spring. He had a 10.05 ERA in 14.1 IP (22 H, 16 ER, 2 HR, 7 BB, 14 K). Hopefully Finnegan can put that behind him and be able to capitalize on the cold weather.



Aaron Nola is the Phillies ace. The only reason he didn’t start on Opening Day was because the Phillies wanted him to be able to start their home opener next week. The Phillies are expecting a big season from Nola, and they will need it. Nola is the only Phillies pitcher projected to be worth more than two wins (using fWAR ZiPS projections).

Nola was the 7th overall pick in 2014. He found his way up to AA before the end of the 2014 season. In 2015, Nola dominated at AA posting a 1.88 ERA/2.88 FIP in 12 starts. He was then called up to AAA, where he only made six starts before being called all the way up to the big leagues. He made his big league debut on July 21st, 2015. He would stay with the big league club for the rest of the season. In 13 starts last season with the Phillies, Nola posted a 3.59 ERA/4.04 FIP with 7.88 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, and 1.27 HR/9.

Nola struggled a bit this spring. In 18.1 IP, he posted a 4.42 ERA (17 H, 9 ER, 4 HR, 5 BB, 17 K). The Reds should probably look to be aggressive against Nola, as he has showed early in his career good command, but has struggled giving up the long ball.

Starting Lineup

UPDATE (6:41 PM): Brandon Phillips is out of the lineup because of a stomach bug.

Phillies Reds
1. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
2. Freddy Galvis (SS)
3. Odubel Herrera (CF)
4. Maikel Franco (3B)
5. Darin Ruf (1B)
6. Cameron Rupp (C)
7. Peter Bourjos (RF)
8. Tyler Goeddel (LF)
9. Aaron Nola (P)
1. Zack Cozart (SS)
2. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Devin Mesoraco (C)
5. Jay Bruce (RF)
6. Scott Schebler (LF)
7. Ivan De Jesus Jr. (2B)
8. Brandon Finnegan (P)
9. Billy Hamilton (CF)

The Reds run the same lineup out for the second game with the exception of Scott Schebler replacing Adam Duvall. Schebler had a .799 OPS last season vs RHP (121 games at AAA, 19 in the MLB).

The Phillies lineup is completely different than Opening Day. That probably is mostly to do with facing at LHP. The big guy missing is Ryan Howard. Manager Pete Mackanin said that he will platoon Howard with Darin Ruf at 1B this season. Howard had a .418 OPS vs LHP last season, while Ruf had a 1.107 OPS. Another player to watch tonight is Cameron Rupp. He had a .915 OPS vs LHP last season. Tyler Goeddel will be making his MLB debut tonight for the Phillies. He was picked up as a rule 5 draft pick from the Rays. He was the 41st overall pick back in the 2011 draft.

Rain, rain, rain

If you remember last year, Opening Night was a disaster for the Reds. The game didn’t end until 1:46 AM. We could be in for another long night if the Reds really want to fit this in. Here is tonight’s forecast. Yikes.

Wed forecast

Strong bullpen start

It was only one game, but the Reds bullpen was terrific on Opening Day. The Reds bullpen was the consensus biggest weakness of this team heading into the season. It certainly still could be a major weakness, but you can’t start any better than they did.

Diaz: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Cingrani: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Ohlendorf: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Hoover: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K

Disco back in action

Anthony DeSclafani threw a simulated game today before batting practice. The Reds are hoping he can start on Sunday, and reports say everything went well and he will be ready for Sunday. Mark Sheldon reported that DeSclafani said he has felt pain-free for a week.

Around the NL Central

The Cubs and Pirates are both off to 2-0 starts. Rizzo, Fowler, and Szczur all homered last night for the Cubs, and they beat the Angels 6-1 to complete a 2-game sweep in Los Angeles. The Pirates got a walk-off single in the 11th inning from Jordy Mercer to beat the Cardinals. The Cardinals will look to avoid getting swept in Pittsburgh to start the season tonight at 7:05. The Brewers avoided a sweep to the Giants this afternoon with a 4-3 win.

Chicago Cubs 2-0 –
Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0
Cincinnati Reds 1-0 0.5 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 1-2 1.5 GB
St. Louis Cardinals 0-2 2.0 GB

Concluding Thoughts

I am excited to see Brandon Finnegan get a chance to start the year in the Reds rotation. I know his spring was less than awesome, but this guy has a lot of upside. I’d love to see him develop into a nice starter for the Reds, because that would make the Reds future rotation even better. I’d also enjoy a Reds win tonight, and 2-0 would be pretty cool. Hopefully the bad weather goes away. Go Reds!

64 Responses

  1. i71_Exile

    I for one will take being a game and a half up on the Cardinals. It won’t last, but I take joy where I can find it. Rain, rain, stay away.

  2. Shchi Cossack

    The Old Cossack decked out in his black tux with red piping and Mrs. Cossack looking very fine in her (very) little black dress are ready for opening night. Our order of wings is in and the beer is wet and cold. The little Cossacks just have to fend for themselves tonight. The Old Cossack will not miss the old recliner tonight. Let the game begin. Don’t wait up little Cossacks; we’ll be late tonight!

  3. Patrick Jeter

    Also regarding Schebler and his OPS against righties; last year, as you state, .799. In 2014 in AA and AZ Fall league; .928. The seasons before in A+; .943. The guy can rake against righties. I hope he get the chance to show it this year.

  4. Mark Lang

    Any day in front of the Cardinals in the standings, no matter the context – is a good day.

  5. Indy RedMan

    Surprised they ran Meso out there tonite since this guys batt avg allowed splits are like 100 pts higher vs righties. I guess its Barnhart tomorrow instead since someone needed to bat cleanup. I hope the 2014 Meso kicks in because this could be a fun offense

    • Indy RedMan

      100 pts lower vs righties rather

  6. Patrick Jeter

    Welp… almost a perfect inning, then a stupid infield dribbler… and now 2 runs on the board.

  7. Frogger

    Young pitchers. Wow. Can drive you crazy. Just never got it when it comes to these kind of scenarios. Reminds of giving McCutchin a fastball to send over right field.

  8. Steve Mancuso

    Reminder this is the Redleg Nation fund raising week. While you’re watching the game, support the site by making a contribution. Whether it be a one-time donation or setting up a small, monthly payment, everything helps and is greatly appreciated.

    I think it may help the Reds win this game, too.

    • Patrick Jeter

      It will also drive away the rain.

  9. VaRedsFan

    Votto getting a workout fielding throws so far…..he’s been up to the task

  10. Matt

    5 IP, 7K, 0 BB so far for Finnegan. Hard to argue with that.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Wow, yeah it is. 5 1/2 innings in an hour and 20 minutes.

  11. hof13

    Best AB of the night ….. now if only Hamilton can do something

  12. Patrick Jeter

    Every time Votto shaved clean last year he sucked. He did it again! Just noticed. Why does he do this! Gotta keep that stubble, man!

  13. Patrick Jeter

    Finnegan has lost all semblance of command. Rain, perhaps?

    • VaRedsFan

      Fought through it to go 6 strong

      • Patrick Jeter

        Indeed he did. I was impressed.

  14. VaRedsFan

    Keith Law is great to listen to.

    • BigRedMike

      Thom is talking about everything but the game at this point

      • spro

        SOOO glad I can actually get the game on ESPN2 here in Cincinnati. Thom seriously pronounced it Cesar Hernaaaahndez

  15. VaRedsFan

    need to tie it here…weather looming

  16. VaRedsFan

    Maybe they are just waiting for the 8th.

  17. LR Green

    Cotham is an interesting story. Pitched at the Vanderbilt pitching factory and is a client of Kyle Boddie of Driveline Baseball, one of the nation’s premier pitching instructors.

  18. BigRedMike

    Good start for Finnegan

    Great job Hamilton!

  19. Patrick Jeter

    Unreal. Bruce and Schebler go 3-0 and then both strike out. Terrible first start for Schebler.

    • Indy RedMan

      I read about Nola last night and he talked about how he’s not a hard thrower. I said “Uh-oh”. A soft tosser is almost always going to have a quality start against us for some reason?

  20. BigRedMike

    Poor AB for Duval as well

    All fastballs to Hamilton. Teams are not scared of him

  21. LR Green

    Teams will continue to knock the bat out of Billy’s hand. His OBP is not a function of “not having discipline at the plate.” No. They just pound the strike zone with no fear of being hit.

  22. VaRedsFan

    great play by Mez and Ivan to rob the fans of pizza.

  23. muttonlettucetomato

    The pitching sure hasn’t been the problem tonight. One bad pitch. Hope it doesn’t end up in a loss. That would have to make a pitcher nuts feeling like they can’t make a mistake all night.

  24. VaRedsFan

    Mez’s 1st 2016 hit…goes 15 feet!!!..Yes!!!

  25. BigRedMike

    Woo Hoo

    Reds win!

    Good for Schebler

  26. Patrick Jeter

    Recency bias and stuff… but I really think Peraza and Schebler for Frazier could end up being a decent trade.

    • pinson343

      Recency bias is natural. The perennial fan’s question: “What has he done lately ?”

      But there’s also a long-term thought here: “When was the last time the Reds had a power LHed bat off the bench or as a part-time player ?”

  27. LR Green

    How about that? Another come from behind win. Schebler the unlikely hero.

  28. Indy RedMan

    I can see it now….little people coming to GABP from all over in their full gear as Schebler’s elves!!

  29. LR Green

    I’m really excited to see Robert Stephenson tomorrow. I hope the weather holds up and he has a great outing.

  30. Patrick Jeter

    Everyone check out SD’s jerseys if you can. They look really cool.

  31. RedAlert

    The Schebler did it in GABP with a lead pipe in the ninth !!!

  32. Indy RedMan

    I thought our pen would be bad and maybe it will but theirs is horrific! Good teams lose like 3-4 games all year when leading after 7 and the Phillies are already 0-2…

    • pinson343

      The problem is, on the road the Reds’ pen is most likely going to have a lot of series like the Phils pen is having now.

      But heck, no runs allowed thru 2 games of the season.

  33. Indy RedMan

    Schebler was the Batman that won it for Cotham City tonite! Actually it was Wood but I’m on a roll

  34. JB WV

    Two excellent outings by the starters and the pen (so far) doing their job. Like everyone else, can’t wait to see Stephenson tomorrow. Want to go to Saturday’s game but the temperature looks nasty. Will they call a game if it’s in the 20’s?

  35. TR

    Good starting pitching, relief pitching, and Bruce hits to the opposite field with Schebler passing his initiation. Series win #1.