UPDATE NOTE: Tonight’s Game has been cancelled. It will be made up as part of a day/ night DH on May 19
We can all relax and exhale at least a bit following the Reds victory over the Cubs on Monday. Whatever else this 2018 edition of the Reds may do or not do, they won’t be setting a new world’s record for futility to begin a season. In fact Monday’s win assured the Reds of no worse than a series split; and, with a win tonight versus the Cubs at GABP, the Reds could secure their first series victory of 2018. Take note of the tonight’s starting time, 6:40pm, and get used to it since Reds home night games will start at this hour until April 30 when the more customary 7:10 starting time returns to GABP night games.
Left hander Cody Reed gets the somewhat surprising starting call tonight for the Reds. Nick Carrington recently reviewed Reed’s sojourn since he joined the Reds in July of 2015 as one of the Johnny Cueto parting gifts received from the Royals.
2017 was a confusing season for Cody Reed. He spent April with the Reds being a seldom used reliever who also made a single start. Reed then spent May through the end of August being a starting pitcher at AAA Louisville. Back with the Reds in September, he made 5 relief appearances pitching just 3.2 innings. This spring Reed was destined to Louisville to be a starter once more until the somewhat surprising announcement late last week that he would be the Reds starter today. The bottom line on Reed is that he has great stuff but has yet to successfully harness it at the MLB level.
Veteran Jon Lester, also a leftie, will be the Cubs starter. In 2017, Lester completed a full decade of making at least 30 MLB starts every season. Stop and let that sink in, a decade of 30 start seasons. Lester made 322 starts covering 2040 innings over the decade, the last 4 seasons with the Cubs. Lester’s 2018 season got off to a difficult start against the Marlins last week. He will be looking to set things straight tonight.
The Numbers (from 2017)
Comparing Reed to Lester, it doesn’t take much of an eye to catch that with the 21.5% strikeout rate, Reed could have a nice MLB career, but only if his walk rate and HR/9 rate also get into a range similar to Lester’s. Otherwise Reed could be gone very quickly.
Thanks to Tyler Mahle’s strong 6 inning effort on Monday, the Reds pen is in generally good shape. Raisel Iglesias has pitched 7 outs in the last two days; but with an off day coming on Wednesday, Bryan Price would likely run Iglesias to the mound for a standard 3 out save should the opportunity present itself.
The Cubs pen also looks to be under no duress.
Sometimes it seems like Bryan Price can’t succeed for trying. He gets it right by platooning Scooter Gennett out of the lineup but then can’t resist his inborn urge to put Billy Hamilton back up to the top.
Now that the Reds have their first win under their belts, we can take a bit more reasoned look at how the team has done over what was essentially a four game opening weekend. First off, don’t overlook that aside from the Dodgers and perhaps a surprise team or two, the competition won’t get any better than what the Reds have faced to date from the Nationals and Cubs. Many teams are going to lose 2 games of a series to the Nats by more than a single run.
The Reds starting pitching has been something of a pleasant surprise so far. They’ve gotten two outstanding starts from Homer Bailey and Tyler Mahle and a good enough start from Sal Romano. The guy seen as the emerging ace, Luis Castillo, turned out to be the only man to come up markedly short in his first start; but Castillo’s time will come. The bullpen on the other hand looks like it could remain a cause for concern. Hopefully the starting staff will build on its good beginning by developing a level of pitch efficiency which keeps them in the game and the bullpen out of the game at least deep into the 7th inning. If you are sizing up the development of the Reds starting pitching, track how many outs they create a game just as closely as their FIP.
The offense is an area of concern. No matter in what order the players bat, the Reds simply have to start getting more production from the centerfield and shortstop positons. And the defense has been less than stellar too. Balls that could have been caught haven’t been; and, a double play that might have been wasn’t which allowed a critical run to score in the season opener. There is more work to be done on both sides of the ball than we may have realized during spring training (maybe because Nick Senzel was capably filling in much of the time??).
Still baseball is back; and, that is always the best of news. Go Reds.