The Reds will be facing an uphill battle as they try to end their season-opening three game losing streak today. They’ll start their second series of the 2018 season against a second straight National League powerhouse in the Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies come into the series with a 2-2 record, having split their season opening series against the Miami Marlins. The Reds, of course, are 0-3, having not held a lead in a single inning in 2018.
It’ll be a battle of the Tylers today, as both Tyler Mahle and Tyler Chatwood will get their first starts of 2018. After an illustrious minor league career and a successful cup of coffee in the majors in 2017, Tyler Mahle impressed early on in spring training. Despite losing some steam at the end, Mahle was able to make the Opening Day roster, staking his claim to the #4 spot in the rotation. Mahle won’t overpower anyone with the velocity behind his fastball, but likes to change the speed, arm slot and break of the pitch to limit base hits and get outs.
Tyler Chatwood spent 2012-2017 pitching his home games for the Rockies in Coors Field, which obviously has the reputation of being very hitter friendly. Despite this, Chatwood has been able to maintain a career 4.31 ERA, including very impressive 2013 and 2016 seasons. This was a nice offseason addition by the Cubs, who are hoping his already solid production will be even better outside of the ballpark in Colorado. He’s struggled against the Reds in four games over his career, with a 5.09 ERA in 17.2 innings. The Reds have hit up Chatwood to the tune of a 143 team OPS+ over those appearances.
This is a bad lineup from Bryan Price.Never really known for his strength in lineup building, it’s hard to accept this from a manager who’s lost three straight games. Although I’d rather see Billy hitting 9th rather than 8th, but that decision is meh. However, Cliff Pennington, who many thought would struggle to make the team, is hitting in the spot that forward-thinking baseball minds believe your best hitter should be hitting. The only logical(?) thought process I can see here is that, in a small sample size of 17 ABs, Pennington has a 1.550 OPS against Chatwood. Suarez, in one more AB, has a 1.167 OPS. A daily lineup won’t make or break a season, but continuing this thought process, that Cliff Pennington is somehow the best option to hit at the top of the order, is enough to give this writer pause. But, hey, Jesse Winker is leading off.
Although the starting nine from Chicago had a lower team wRC+ than the Reds starting 9 did last year, they’ll be favored in this matchup. Their best hitters are hitting 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 1st. Again, a lineup from a single game does not a season make, but this seems to be smart, no-brainer lineup construction that the next Cincinnati manager will need to implement.