Opening Day is finally here! The Cincinnati Reds (0-0) will begin 2017 at Great American Ballpark against the Philadelphia Phillies (0-0). The Reds are now in their third year of the rebuild, and are hoping to surprise some folks in 2017. The Reds open 2017 with the youngest roster in the MLB, including seven rookies.
The Reds and Phillies are both projected for about the same win total in 2017 by PECOTA (74 for the Phillies, 73 for the Reds). Both teams are hoping to start seeing signs that they are turning a corner from their rebuilds. The Phillies have everyone long gone from their run of success from 2007-2011. The Phillies added Clay Buchholz, Howie Kendrick, Michael Saunders, Pat Neshek, and Joaquin Benoit this off-season.
The following stats are 2017 ZiPS projections, with the exception of FBv (fastball velocity):
Scott Feldman starting on opening day certainly wasn’t a sexy pick. When the news was announced a few weeks ago, one of my friends who is a more casual baseball fan texted me “who the [REDACTED] is Scott Feldman?”
When the Reds signed 34-year old Scott Feldman in January, we thought he would be a good “innings eater.” He had a 3.97 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 4.17 xFIP, and 4.07 SIERA last year with the Blue Jays and Astros. The MLB average for starting pitchers is around 4.30 for those numbers, so he is about as average as it gets. However, in 2016 only 5 of Feldman’s 40 appearences were as a starter. The three previous seasons, he was exclusively used as a starter. An interesting note on Feldman is that today is surprisingly his third opening day start! He started opening day for the Rangers in 2010, and for the Astros in 2014.
Feldman was originally drafted in the 30th round in 2003 by the Texas Rangers. He made his debut with the Rangers in 2005, and was up and down every year with the Rangers through 2011. Feldman pitched in five games out of the bullpen in the 2011 World Series with the Rangers. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent for the 2013 season, but was traded mid-season to the Orioles in a deal that included Jake Arrieta.
Feldman signed with the Astros as a free agent for the 2014 season. He had the most success of his career in Houston, posting a 3.64 ERA over 73 games (52 starts). Feldman was traded to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season.
You might not believe this, but Scott Feldman has already earned $50+ million in his MLB career. He throws mostly a cutter, sinker, and curveball. His fastball, which he only throws 9.0% of the time, averages just over 90 MPH. His most effective pitch is the cutter. Feldman has never struck out a lot of batters (career 5.57 K/9), but has had some success by limiting walks and home runs.
The Phillies are one of only two teams that Feldman has never faced in his big league career (the Cubs are the other). There are only three current Phillies that Feldman has faced: Howie Kendrick (12 for 28, 1 HR, 1.055 OPS), Michael Saunders (3 for 14, 1 HR, .866 OPS), and Daniel Nava (6 for 16, 1 HR, 1.037 OPS).
Jeremy Hellickson will be starting for a second consecutive year for the Phillies on Opening Day at Great American Ballpark. How crazy is that? Hellickson dominated the Reds over 6.0 innings on opening day last year (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) before the Phillies bullpen blew the game. Hellickson went onto have a solid year for the Phillies in 2016: 32 GS, 3.71 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 7.33 K/9, 2.12 BB/9, 1.14 HR/9, 3.2 fWAR.
|1. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
2. Howie Kendrick (LF)
3. Odubel Herrera (CF)
4. Maikel Franco (3B)
5. Michael Saunders (RF)
6. Tommy Joseph (1B)
7. Cameron Rupp (C)
8. Freddy Galvis (SS)
9. Jeremy Hellickson (P)
|1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Jose Peraza (2B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Adam Duvall (LF)
5. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
6. Scott Schebler (RF)
7. Zack Cozart (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Scott Feldman (P)
There is a lot to like about this Reds lineup. Every spot has potential. The Reds are obviously hoping that Hamilton and Peraza can get on base and cause havoc at the top of the lineup. From 3-7, the Reds have good power at each spot. You add in Devin Mesoraco, and this lineup just might do some damage. The Reds were tied for 8th in the MLB in the second half of 2016 with a 100 wRC+.
The Phillies have been lead the last couple years by the on-base combo of Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera, and the power bat of Maikel Franco. They’ll get some help this season from Michael Saunders (projected .782 OPS) and Tommy Joseph (projected .789 OPS).
The current forecast is for 64 degrees at first pitch with a 55% chance of precipitation. It will hover between 55% to 70% precipitation from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM. If this game starts on time, there is a decent chance this game gets delayed at some point.
The rest of the rotation
Brandon Finnegan – Wed, 7:10 vs Phillies
Rookie Davis – Thurs, 12:35 vs Phillies
Amir Garrett – Fri, 8:15 at Cardinals
Scott Feldman – Sat, 2:15 at Cardinals
Bronson Arroyo – Sun, 2:15 at Cardinals*
*Not yet officially annouced
I posted this last year on Opening Day, but I thought it was worth doing again. You should also check out the latest Redleg Nation Radio podcast, where Chad and Chris preview the 2017 season.
There is nothing quite like Opening Day in the Queen City. It is a fresh season and a clean slate for our Redlegs. I am a lot more optimistic than most about the Reds chances in 2017. If you are looking for some optimism, check out my article “Why Not Us” from last month. The Reds might only have a 9% chances of reaching the postseason according to FiveThirtyEight, but just last week we saw Xavier reach the Elite 8 and they had a 4% chance of doing that. So keep the optimism alive! Go Reds!