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!

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.

Join the conversation! 64 Comments

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

  5. Phiillips scratched from the lineup with a stomach virus. DeJesus instead.

  6. 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

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

  8. 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.

  9. Did Finny just throw a 92 MPH slider?

  10. 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.

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

  12. 5 IP, 7K, 0 BB so far for Finnegan. Hard to argue with that.

  13. Game is moving along very fast.

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

  15. Billy. 2 AB’s. 6 pitches. 2 K’s. Will he ever hit?

  16. 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!

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

  18. Keith Law is great to listen to.

    • Thom is talking about everything but the game at this point

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

  19. need to tie it here…weather looming

  20. Maybe they are just waiting for the 8th.

  21. The Reds ARE an 8th inning team this year!

  22. 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.

  23. Good start for Finnegan

    Great job Hamilton!

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

    • 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?

  25. Poor AB for Duval as well

    All fastballs to Hamilton. Teams are not scared of him

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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.

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

  30. Wow, did Bruce just hit it oppo? Just wow.

  31. Can Schlebbler pull a Votto?

  32. Ball Game!!!!!!!

  33. SCOTTY SCHEBZ!!!!!

  34. Reds 2-0. Only 160 left to win.

  35. Woo Hoo

    Reds win!

    Good for Schebler

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

    • 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 ?”

  37. I know it’s the Phils but 2 wins is a nice start.

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

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

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

  41. Cards just tinkled in their pants knowing the new machine is coming!

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

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

  44. 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…

    • 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.

  45. The Reds Magic Number is 160

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

  47. 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?

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

Comments are closed.

About Nick Kirby

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.


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