Another year, another season-opening sweep for the Cincinnati Reds. Two dramatic late-inning wins and a slugfest capstone were the story of the series, as the Reds decided to take it to the other Pennsylvania team this time around. Pitching prospect Robert Stephenson got roughed up a bit yesterday, but pitched well enough to preserve the win and then be promptly sent back down to the farm.

The Pirates come into town tonight coming off a sweep of their own, having outplayed the Cardinals in every way over the three games. With the Cubs also without a loss, three of the five remaining undefeated teams reside in the NL Central, and all three are 3 games ahead of the Cardinals.

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Starting Pitchers

All numbers from 2015:

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After a year-long hiatus with the Tigers, Alfredo Simon returns to the Reds rotation hoping to duplicate his solid 2014 season. In his only year starting full-time for the Reds, Simon compiled a 15-10 record over 196.1 innings with a 3.44 ERA. Simon had a rough 2015 up north, however, explained in part by a 30 point jump in BABIP.

The Reds signed Simon to a one-year deal in the midst of Spring Training to be a stopgap until the younger guys like Stephenson are ready to stick in the bigs. Best case scenario, Simon recreates his 2014 first half and the Reds can flip him once again for strong prospects.

ZiPS doesn’t project big things for Simon, foreseeing a 9-11 season over 155.7 innings with a 4.90 ERA. His FIP and BABIP are both also expected to creep up, leaving Simon as nothing more than presumable innings-eater.

In his abbreviated Spring Training, Simon made three solid starts, pitching to the tune of a 3.86 ERA (11.2 IP, 5ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 9 K). All the Reds need from Simon this year is a replacement-level player, and the early returns look promising on him reaching that low threshold.


Francisco Liriano, the Pirate’s number two behind Gerrit Cole, takes the mound after earning the win on Opening Day. Over 6.0 innings, Liriano blanked the Cardinals, limiting them to three hits while striking out 10. Liriano also knocked in the first run of the 2016 season, singling home in the second inning. For a minute there, Liriano led the league in both strikeouts and RBIs.

Historically, Liriano has been slow to start the season, starting the 2015 season with a 6-18 record and a 5.29 ERA in March and April. Since joining the Pirates, however, Liriano has a 2.95 ERA with 74 Ks over 64.1 innings in the season’s opening months.

In 12 career starts against the Reds, Liriano has been miserable, going 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 72.1 innings. Last season, he made three starts, taking the win in one of them and throwing 18.0 innings with a 3.00 ERA. Of the Reds starting today, Devin Mesoraco has had the most success against Liriano, hitting .385 in 13 at-bats with 2 RBIs.

Starting Lineup

Pirates Reds
  1. John Jaso (1B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. David Freese (3B)
  4. Starling Marte (LF)
  5. Francisco Cervelli (C)
  6. Gregory Polanco (RF)
  7. Josh Harrison (2B)
  8. Jordy Mercer (SS)
  9. Francisco Liriano (P)
  1. Zack Cozart (SS)
  2. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
  3. Joey Votto (1B)
  4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
  5. Devin Mesoraco (C)
  6. Jay Bruce (RF)
  7. Adam Duvall (LF)
  8. Alfredo Simon (P)
  9. Billy Hamilton (CF)

Brandon Phillips reappears in the Reds’ lineup after battling the stomach bug the past couple of days. The rest of the lineup is Reds standard, with Adam Duvall taking a platoon day in left.

Uh-Oh

Nothing about that tweet appears particularly ominous, but it’s not a good thing regardless. Dan Straily would be the logical replacement choice, but Keyvius Sampson could get a spot start or management could move Tim Melville onto the 40-man roster. I wouldn’t expect to see Rookie Davis or Amir Garret making the jump up anytime soon.

Weekend in the Bigs

30-year-old first baseman Brandon Allen had his contract selected by the Reds this morning to fill the roster spot left empty by Robert Stephenson’s option to AAA. Allen figured to be on the roster for the next two days until Anthony DeSclafani was set to come off the DL to start Sunday, but with Disco’s setback, Allen’s new timetable is unclear.

Allen has bounced around the league since being drafted in 2004. He hasn’t appeared in a big league game since 2012 with the Rays, but might see a pinch hit at-bat sometime this weekend. For his career, Allen has barely hit above the Mendoza line (.203 AVG).

Around the NL Central

The Cubs won the first of a four game set against the Diamondbacks with a 14-6 dismantling, but young star Kyle Schwarber sprained his left ankle in the process. Schwarber collided with centerfielder Dexter Fowler going for a Jean Segura line drive. The Brewers were off yesterday.

 Cubs 3-0
 Reds  3-0  —
 Pirates  3-0  —
 Brewers  1-2  2 GB
 Cardinals  0-3  3 GB

Concluding Thoughts

It’ll be a cold, cloudy, potentially rainy night at Great American Ballpark: does it feel like baseball season yet? Hopefully, it warms up a bit before game time and the Reds stay hot. It would be great if the Reds could match their 4-0 start from last season, especially against a fearsome Pirates team. Go Reds!

102 Responses

  1. Pooter

    Votto has posted a -0.1 WAR and a 12 wRC+ yet we’re still undefeated. With Votto performing to his potential, I think 162-0 is still within reach!

    • Vicferrari

      Didn’t he have a game winning hit, I will never understand how WAR is calculataed but overall I believe it to be accurate despite the occasionally Kris Negron 2014 outliers

      • Patrick Jeter

        WAR is context neutral. Doesn’t matter if that single was in the 1st or 9th.

        A context-dependent stat, Win Probability Added (WPA), had Votto worth quite a bit after that game.

  2. RedInIND

    An off-topic broadcast question: Why are Reds games not being televised on my Comcast Fox Sports-Ohio channel? I’m in Dearborn County, IN and FS-O on channel 19 is part of my package. Comcast says they can show only what FS-O provides. Today’s Fox lineup includes UEFA soccer, Cavs b-ball, Blue Jackets hockey (at Reds game time), and then WPT. What am I missing, besides Reds baseball?

  3. Shchi Cossack

    Moscot on rehab assignment with Daytona last night:

    3.2 IP w/ 0-R, 5-H, 1-BB, 1-SO, 1-WP

    Looked rusty, but finished his 1st rehab appearance. On to the next appearance.

    • vegastypo

      Price just said he left that start with a blister, but that it wasn’t serious. He even threw again today.

  4. Wesley Jenkins

    And Schwarber is now out for the year with torn knee ligaments; seems like the Pirates division to lose

    • Vicferrari

      For a second I thought you meant Schebler and I thought when did he get hurt from the mob scene Thursday night???? In other news do the Reds really need a back-up 1b and who is Brandon Allen????
      BTW on your comment Pirates division to lose-that is assuming the Pirates know how to win a division.

    • Pooter

      Even though I strongly dislike (my mother, wife, and grandma told me to never use the word hate) the Cubs, that news is heart-breaking. You never want that to happen to anyone. I feel bad for the guy…

    • Patrick Jeter

      Scwarber wasn’t a big part of the Cubs plans since he can’t play passable defense anywhere. All they lost was a 1.5-2 WAR platoon player. They will be fine.

  5. Vicferrari

    Do not like this Disco news…sounds like he will pitch any day then all of sudden it is June and then we just shut him down for the year, I think his turn comes up twice before next Sunday and then need a fifth starter… can they bring up Stephenson by then?

  6. Earl Nash

    Losing Schwarber’s left handed bat might hurt, but they got the depth that with improved defense from Soler or maybe Zobrist in left with Baez at second, they might not miss that much. I think they will most likely score plenty, I think the Cubs pitching is where an injury could make the back end of the rotation or pen thin.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    Well that should warm things up at GABP tonight!

  8. James G.

    Can’t be pleasant pitching in this for Simon. 41 and rainy.

  9. James G.

    And there it is. Can’t beat that for a first inning. Mesoraco also looking good at the plate.

  10. BigRedMike

    Nice job by Suarez and Votto after the bad decision by Cozart.

  11. VaRedsFan

    Since no one has mentioned it yet BPPPPPPP!!!.
    Your cleanup hitter folks.

  12. VaRedsFan

    Colorado rookie Story hit 2 more HRs today….He now has 6

  13. MikeZ

    Another off topic question. Does anybody know what Votto is using for his walk up music this year? I was hoping for a return to Paint it Black, but I betting its something new. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  14. VaRedsFan

    Back to back innings with the bases loaded…0outs and 1 out, both end in a double play 🙁

  15. VaRedsFan

    Suarez error and a walk….not a good start to the 5th…Now a HBP…oy

  16. VaRedsFan

    Great play by Zack to get an out deep in the hole

  17. BigRedMike

    Nice Cozart, thanks Marte for poor baserunning

  18. VaRedsFan

    Cozart!!!! a 2nd time…huge play on another Suarez boot, to bail the Reds out

  19. BigRedMike

    Mercer thought he struck out. Now a lead off walk. Not a good start

  20. VaRedsFan

    Glad they PH for Liriano (2 hits)

  21. mtkal

    In general I like how patient our hitters are early in the year, and especially tonight, it’s important against a guys like Lariano.

  22. BigRedMike

    Thom beside himself at this point. Sacrifice to get to Hamilton?

    • Patrick Jeter

      I hate how Thom (and many others) think sacrificing is the only viable option.

      • BigRedMike

        Not sure how the Reds scored a run there without a sacrifice bunt. Thom was shocked along with the crowd that the Reds did not sacrifice

  23. VaRedsFan

    BILLY…RBI knock!!! slapped it through the 5.5 hole

  24. mtkal

    Once he was in the rundown, good job by Duvall to prolong it long enough to get the runners to 2nd and 3rd.

  25. Patrick Jeter

    Two junk hits by Marte tonight.

  26. VaRedsFan

    Living dangerously…Cingrani gets his man…nice offspeed

  27. Indy RedMan

    Not the prettiest game in the world but its supposed to be the boys of summer not the fellows of frost! Billy’s swing actually looked pretty compact there for the RBI and Cozart picked up Suarez nicely. Its a great team effort so far!!

  28. Patrick Jeter

    Of course Thom say “Votto is 0 for 3… with an RBI.” No mention of the walk.

    • BigRedMike

      He is proud of the walk Phillips just received

      • Patrick Jeter

        Yeah, I switched to the Pirates broadcast after that. It’s unbearable.

  29. BigRedMike

    Nice Phillips. Walk becomes a run

  30. Carl Sayre

    BP scores from second on a passed ball somebody forgot to tell him that he is old.

    • Indy RedMan

      He was running so he gets a stolen base

  31. VaRedsFan

    They finally got Red-killer, Mercer out

  32. msanmoore

    OK, who are these guys playing with our favorite Reds’ uniforms on?

  33. VaRedsFan

    Several innings tonight they retire the 1st 2 pirates, only to get in trouble after that.

    • msanmoore

      Yep – Reality biting very hard now.

  34. VaRedsFan

    I don’t know how defensive runs saved are calculated, but that play by Brandon qualifies in my book.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Off the top of my head, I think Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) has human beings watch every single defensive play and categorize it at +1, 0, or -1. Presumably they get training and try to apply that training consistently.

  35. mtkal

    I’ve watched several times in super slow mo, and I can not see Olendorf’s pitch hit Jaso.

    • Patrick Jeter

      You are correct. It didn’t. Umpires…

  36. BigRedMike

    Nice hanging slider by Hoover. Tough inning

  37. VaRedsFan

    Home run Hoover returns…..all the goodness of the night destroyed.
    #closerarentimportant

    • docmike

      Can’t let Ohlendorf off the hook… he loaded the bases because he couldn’t find the strike zone.

      • mtkal

        Reds should have had more runs by then as well.

    • RedAlert

      Thanks JJ – back to normal – dude will never be an effective closer

  38. msanmoore

    And we’re back down to Earth against a real MLB club. Not sure we will have a come-from-behind in us tonight.

    Signing off …

  39. Indy RedMan

    Wow…can’t believe Hoover threw that pitch there? What a hanger! Well we knew the pen wasn’t going to be very good! Ohlendorf just got picked up when? 10 days ago or something? I think when you get some guys back then Finnegan could move into the pen throwing 95+. Hoover could set it up for him. I’m higher on Lorenzen then most on here but he was throwing 97-98 in spring training last year. He could be the closer. Still got outs but that was a total gift!

    • mtkal

      I like Lorenzen as a possible closer too. I think he was one in college right? Finnegan should make a good late inning guy too.

  40. Patrick Jeter

    Can’t wait for robot umpires.

    • msanmoore

      I’m ready for it at least for the strike zone … too easy to do and will take away the guesswork and variability.

  41. docmike

    I didn’t agree with the decision to bring in Hoover anyway. There should be no defined roles on this bullpen, and Ohlendorf was just as capable as Hoover of getting out of that mess… which he created himself.

  42. Patrick Jeter

    Schebler, who destroys righties sits the bench while Holt, who destroys lefties, bats against a righty. PriceLogix.

    • docmike

      Sometimes I think he’s not even trying. I’m so ready for a new manager, someone who is ready to embrace some semblance of analytics.

    • Indy RedMan

      That is weird? Schebler only has 3 doubles already? You get a guy in scoring position for Cozart who’s been hot. I don’t get it either?

    • Gaffer

      But that has been true for years. Price is the person who should know that, as he decides who to pitch and probably calls the pitches.

  43. Patrick Jeter

    Between the Duvall non-walk and the Jaso HBP, the outcome of this game is being significantly affected by poor umpiring. It’s sad to watch a once proud profession flounder in front of the hi-speed cameras and radars.

  44. Indy RedMan

    I think the batting avg against Somsen in his minor league career is .217 or something? I think he could help this team and so could Drew Hayes. Its a season for experimentation but thinking Hoover can be a big league closer and Ohlendorf can be an 8th inning guy is along the lines of thinking Marquis and Gregg were going to help us last year.

  45. docmike

    Why on earth would Price take Hoover out now? You already double-switched Jay Bruce out of the game so JJ could pitch the 9th as well, but now you lift him after getting only one out and use yet another pitcher. If the Reds do manage to tie this up later this inning, you have practically used up all your arms. Why would he do this…

    Oh yeah. It’s no longer a “save situation”, which means by rule the “closer” can no longer pitch. Sigh.

    • VaRedsFan

      Maybe Wood is the new closer…I vote yes!

      • vegastypo

        I vote for no actual ‘closer’ and go with whoever the situation dictates. But not sure it much matters among Price’s choices.

  46. VaRedsFan

    Those early inning bases loaded misses have come home to roost. Don’t they always?

    • Indy RedMan

      They left more guys than we did though. It hurts though….they gifted us the 5th run with BP…thought that was the icing if we needed it.

  47. VaRedsFan

    THOM! actually answered my question… the answer is 12! The number of runners reaching base after 2 outs and nobody on

  48. hof13

    Reds finally get the Pirates in order – first time tonight.

    • Patrick Jeter

      Oh, wow. I knew that last half inning felt a bit odd.

  49. docmike

    Wonder how things might have gone if Price had put in Wood instead of Hoover last inning?

  50. VaRedsFan

    Remembering back to ALL THOSE TIMES they didn’t bring Chapman in during the 8th inning

  51. Patrick Jeter

    First pitch pop-up from Cozart when what we need is a base runner. This is why he is a terrible leadoff hitter and always will be.

  52. RedAlert

    Rather almost see anybody out if the pen than Hoover in a high leverage situation – roller coaster ride with him every time he enters – prone to the longball – has Price not figured this out in the 3 years he has been “managing ” this team ???? – totally clueless

  53. Patrick Jeter

    McCutchen won’t stick in CF too much longer. He looked awfully bad going back on that ball.

  54. VaRedsFan

    That ball was tagged by Suarez, great play by Cutch

    • TR

      The same way the Bengals had the playoff game in the bag and gave it to the Steelers.

  55. hof13

    Well last year the Reds started 4 – 0 and we all know how that ended. I’ll take a loss now if it means the overall season is better.

  56. Indy RedMan

    I like that Price went to his closer but problem is Hoover isn’t a major league closer? Oh well….they own Cole like no other pitcher in the NL so go get’em tomorrow

  57. Poefan309

    Why didn’t Price start Cingrani in the 8th? His health is good and he has looked great this spring. Price created a losing situation by bringing in Hoover. Ohlendorf is no answer as a set up man for the closer.. I have never cared for the way Price uses his talent.