Opening Day is finally here! The Cincinnati Reds look to start the 2015 season on a positive note against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On the last day of the 2014 season, Johnny Cueto took the mound at Great American Ballpark and led the Reds to a 4-1 victory over the Pirates. Hopefully, Cueto and the Reds repeat today, and we begin 2015 with game-winning fireworks!

The Pirates have made the playoffs as a wild card team in each of the past two seasons after a 20 year absence from postseason play. I’ve read a lot of people predicting that Pittsburgh will make the playoffs again as a wild card or challenging for the division title. As Grant Freking outlined in last week’s Pirates preview, they have made more additions than subtractions to last season’s 88-win team.

That theoretically puts Cincinnati in the underdog role. However, the Reds beat Pittsburgh in head-to-head play last year 12-7 including winning six of nine games at Great American Ballpark. Among NL clubs, only the Reds, Brewers, Cardinals and Nationals had winning records against the Pirates.

The following stats are 2014 actuals except for the 2015 FIP projection (ZiPS):

PITCHER 2015 FIP 2014 FIP HR/9 BB% K%
Francisco Liriano 3.27 3.59 0.7 11.7% 25.3%
Johnny Cueto 3.48 3.30 0.8 6.8% 25.2%

Johnny Cueto pitched exceptionally against the Pirates last year, going 5-0 in six starts with a 1.76 ERA, and a 0.935 WHIP. He faced 180 batters over 46 innings, walking just 10 (5.6%) and striking out 38 (21.1%).

Francisco Liriano was great for the Pirates for the 2nd consecutive season but didn’t fare so well against Cincinnati. He was 0-2 in five starts last year, posting a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. In 30 innings, he pitched to 136 Reds, walking 19 (14%) and striking out 25 (18.4%).

Grant also wrote about the Pirates 2015 pitching staff in detail last week. The Pirates begin the year with two of their best relievers (Melancon and Watson) plus acquired lefty Antonio Bastardo for the back end of their bullpen. There are a lot of question marks bridging the middle innings, and overall, the bullpen is probably the weakest part of this Pirates team.

The Pirates top 4 offense is almost back in its entirety, except 5 WAR catcher Russell Martin. Martin’s loss is something to watch this season as he was a major contributor to last year’s squad both offensively and defensively.

  1. Josh Harrison (R) 3B
  2. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
  3. Andrew McCutchen (R) CF
  4. Neil Walker (S) 2B
  5. Starling Marte (R) LF
  6. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
  7. Francisco Cervelli (R) C
  8. Jordy Mercer (R) SS
  9. Francisco Liriano (L) P

The Reds are going with the lineup Bryan Price showed in the last two exhibition games.

  1. Billy Hamilton (S) CF
  2. Joey Votto (L) 1B
  3. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
  4. Devin Mesoraco (R) C
  5. Marlon Byrd (R) LF
  6. Jay Bruce (L) RF
  7. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
  8. Zack Cozart (R) SS
  9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

I’m certainly ready for some baseball, and I’m looking forward to the Reds putting 2014 in their rearview mirror. If you are heading down to the ballpark, you might want to take your umbrella. They should be able to get the game in, but I can’t promise that you’ll be dry when you walk back to your car. The 2015 season starts with 22 games against NL Central foes. It’s expected to be a tight division race, and all five clubs have some reason to be optimistic.


171 Responses

  1. Norris

    Thought sure I’d check the lineup and see BP in the 3-hole. This is the optimal lineup in my book. GO REDLEGS!

    • gaffer

      For a lefty it is good, for a righty Byrd and Bruce should switch.

  2. George Mirones

    FINALLY, No more speculation, just results, thank goodness for April.
    Hitch up those nickers folks, the ride is about to start.

  3. muttonlettucetomato

    Agreed… Steve and all of the contributors do a great job. I would love for the Reds to get off to a fast start, like the 1990 team.

  4. Pooter

    I am currently in the library working on my thesis as tears role down my cheeks in excitement!!! I feel like I’m 10 years old. Giddy as could be!!!

  5. lost11found

    Loshe done. 7 ER 3.1 IP. Not what the brewers wanted I’m sure. As usual, Rockies offense can put up some numbers, will they have the pitching to match?

  6. Ellis Henry

    What a national anthem. Holy cow.

  7. mwvohio

    It’s been a long winter but finally some baseball that counts! Can’t wait.

  8. RedsFanInCali

    First time post…I’m hoping to add some positive mojo to our beloved Redlegs as I am a super positive person.

    Go Reds!

  9. cfd3000

    I’m officially excited. Welcome all in RLN. Go Reds. Strike one!

  10. Ellis Henry

    Looks like Votto’s leg feels OK. What a play!

  11. sergeant2

    Except for the 8 spot the Reds look like the real lumber company, a force to be reckoned with offensively. Wire to wire baby. Go Reds!!! OK, I’ll calm down, how bout we start the season on the right Redleg and get a win to open the season. Go Reds!

  12. lost11found

    That’ll do Johnny, That’ll do.

  13. sergeant2

    I was going to say the same about you Charlottencredsfan, welcome back to you sir. Go Reds!

  14. unclebrad

    Lurker making an Opening Day comment. Not sure I’ll have much to add, but I do enjoy watching this team pitch and field.

  15. mwvohio

    Such a contrast in styles just in these two at bats. Mez is patient and Byrd comes up swinging out of his shoes.

  16. User1022

    Is it still a rally if they aren’t behind?

  17. User1022

    Well, Byrd certainly looks like he’ll fit in perfectly on this team.

  18. unclebrad

    Leaving Bruce in on Opening Day when he is 0-16 is for confidence? Maybe small sample size, or because it is Opening Day. Please announcers don’t make me mute you already.

  19. mwvohio

    On the plus side the back half of the order is pushing up Liriano’s pitch count.

  20. unclebrad

    LHP or maybe opposite of alphabetical order?

  21. lost11found

    The Wade Boggs effect. If you’re a good hitter you get good calls, bad hitters get no breaks.

  22. PhoenixPhil

    Does it appear that the batters are walking out of the box on Cueto? Disrupt his timing?

  23. unclebrad

    Cueto has passed Browning on the Reds’ K list.

  24. Jake

    Cueto is rolling right along today. Hope the lineup can provide him some support!

    • User1022

      The way the game is going, 3 runs should win it.

  25. mwvohio

    A walk to JC? What is this madness? Probably wants to clog the bases in front of Billy.

  26. Jake

    Gonna be a real shame when we don’t have Cueto anymore

  27. lost11found

    He doing some of it for himself…walks will haunt hopefully.

  28. Beroader

    *seeing the “Walks Will Haunt” Jumbotron animation in my head*

  29. unclebrad

    So that’s why it is called a walk.

  30. User1022

    Let’s see if having Billy on distracts the pitcher enough to make a mistake to Votto like so many on here were saying.

  31. Beroader

    *seeing the “Balks Will Haunt” Jumbotron animation in my head*

  32. unclebrad

    See something new every season. I don’t think I’ve seen the first run of a season score on a balk.

  33. Jeff Morris

    Same Problem as last year…..Reds can’t hit, and can’t hit with runners in scoring position.

    • unclebrad

      But the Reds are on pace to go 0-972 w/RISP.

  34. mwvohio

    Billy! This team is so good as long as the ball stays in the park behind our guys.

  35. BigRedMachine

    GG Hamilton! (Good game, Gold glove..take your pick)

  36. User1022

    BHam flashes some leather of his own.

    • User1022

      Reminds me of Bronson, he’d go through all kinds of pitch delivery speeds, sometimes just throwing without even really lifting his feet.

  37. BigRedMachine

    Rose calling out Marty about Votto & hitting approach. Love it!

  38. unclebrad

    Bruuuuuuce puts the ball on the concourse (and an RBI).

  39. User1022

    Phillips has had bad luck on both balls he hit today.

  40. mwvohio

    Going back to Byrd, hopefully it’s just Liriano. I can see how he’d give righties fits with that sinking action that drops onto their back foot.

  41. unclebrad

    Did Rose basically say Cubs are going to Cub?

  42. Qatar's Reds

    They really need to let Pete Rose back in Baseball. One of the best comments regarding Joey Votto’s batting approach.

  43. mwvohio

    As much as I’d love that he’d end up saying something he shouldn’t. That’s just Pete.

  44. unclebrad

    Of course. If it weren’t for bad luck…

  45. lost11found

    Sadly Raining, but (silver lining time), its an official game!

  46. Jake

    Pitch was way inside yet it gets called a strike. Ump going blind

  47. PhoenixPhil

    Johnny quick pitching is cracking me up.

  48. mwvohio

    Wow. I missed the anthem. If anyone finds a link to it at some point post it because it sounds like it was really good. Might just be Thom being Thom but he has me curious now.

  49. mwvohio

    The fans want that pizza but denied for now. If the Reds hold the lead I think Chappy might secure the free food.

    • mwvohio

      Probably not an issue. I don’t think Chapman does the quick pitch haha.

  50. mwvohio

    He’s incredible. No idea how he pitches as well as he does in our park.

    • mwvohio

      If JC is out I’d like to see Cingrani. I want so badly for us to have a 1-2 lefty shutdown show this year.

  51. mwvohio

    This is the polar opposite of the Chapman problem. Both are being misused but in completely different yet equally horrifying ways.

  52. mwvohio

    Does Gregg have a put-away pitch? I honestly don’t know. It doesn’t look like it.

  53. mwvohio

    Is Gregg in the game just to keep it exciting or what? Opening Day drama?

  54. Eric the Red

    I can’t imagine what could be the argument against using Chapman for two innings here. He did it in spring training a number of times, and there’s no game tomorrow. Unless you’re never going to do it, this seems like a great time to do it. And if you’re never going to do it…well that just makes me sad.

  55. BigRedMachine

    Relax guys. Thom just gave credit for Gregg in that at bat for throwing strikes. It’s all good. /sigh

  56. George Mirones

    13 pitches on the first batter, not what I expected.

  57. mwvohio

    Four. Four balls crushed off Gregg. This wasn’t predictable was it? Oh wait.

  58. mwvohio

    That was a 90mph fastball right in the middle of the plate. The exact pitch he threw about 12 other times this inning.

  59. Vernon Bentley (@Fiercev)


  60. rfay00

    This is how you convince Cueto to rethink the contract extension deadline…

  61. mwvohio

    That was all about Gregg not Cutch. Completely inexcusable to bring him in at that point in the game. I cannot understand it.

  62. RossGrimsley

    Dear God, we let LeSam go for this guy?

  63. mwvohio

    I’m just stunned that Gregg was the first guy out of the pen. Can anyone offer up a plausible reason for that? Does he have pictures to blackmail Price with?

  64. Creigh Deeds

    Cueto is the best pitcher the Reds have developed, since at least Browning or Soto, maybe back to Nolan and Gullett. Both he and Chapman are wasted on this team. They need to be turned into offense and prospects.

  65. mwvohio

    I was convinced coming out of camp that Gregg was our long man. I just do not know what is going on right now.

  66. Vernon Bentley (@Fiercev)

    Can’t wait to hear what unbelievably stupid excuses the manager makes for this mess. Matchups, hunch, stats, Ouija board, Tarot cards, lost bet. I personally think he did it because he blindly threw darts at a board in the dugout and it landed on Gregg

    • Aaron Bradley

      He literally put the sketchiest reliever from the spring into the game to protect a 2-run lead with the heart of the lineup coming up when everyone was fresh. I seriously don’t get it, unless he is trying to speed up LeCure’s return.

  67. jim

    Ugh…some things never change…this bullpen is gonna kill this team

  68. mwvohio

    I look forward to the day when society evolves to the point where managers have to face not local reporters but fan questions after a game, sorted by most asked. The squirming will be much more amusing.

  69. zgreds

    Is there any way to put cueto back in the game?

  70. mwvohio

    Hold on. This isn’t right. Isn’t Watson a good reliever? Are they allowed to bring out a good one first?

    • Vernon Bentley (@Fiercev)

      Didn’t you hear about the rules of the bullpen? You work backwards. You go with the garbage first and then if you survive, you bring out the big guns

  71. RossGrimsley

    Is Dominguez the new Neftali Soto?

  72. mwvohio

    Thom is trying to draw a parallel to this and Cutch facing Gregg. Hah.

  73. Carl Sayre

    Somebody tell me again why Price is a big league manager? Cueto should take a bat to him for being so BLANKING stupid when it took 13 pitches to get a hitter out. I am 55 years old and obese and i promise you i would get closer to making plays in left field than Byrd did in the third and then again in the eighth. I mean they must time him with a sundial. A brilliant performance by Cueto wasted. I know the manager can only play the ones he has but at least Negron could get to the ball in left field. My wife said Byrd made a good play in the eight that i didn’t see but the 2 i did see were awful, maybe a real LF doesn’t get to them either but at least he would have been on camera. When you mismanage like the Reds have done for the last forever you are not going to get FA to come play. I am just disgusted with a game that should have been done and now it is not even a win at this point.

  74. mwvohio

    Gregg thing was still inexcusable but I don’t care at the moment because I’m smiling at that inning of work by Billy/Votto/Todd

  75. BigRedMachine

    Single, single, home run by the 1-2-3 hitters. It is almost like this lineup makes mathematical sense. 😉

  76. Merkisaredsfan

    Can that be four billy runs

    Billy runs- cause by pitcher being distracted by billy Hamilton being on base…

    • Merkisaredsfan

      I can see your point but I wasn’t able to see the balk, which I though was caused by billy. Therefore I thought that the homerun was a meatball pitch (because of the extra attention the pirates pitchers were giving billy when he was on base) either way go reds!

  77. mwvohio

    Like I said, hopefully it was more Liriano than Byrd. He looked a little better against Watson.

    • Aaron Bradley

      Double This^^ … kids playing on their old Commodore 64 make better decisions than these clowns the Reds hire… this is why LaRussa managed circles around us when he was managing…

  78. Ellis Henry

    Chapman looks ANGRY. This is new. And I love it.

  79. mwvohio

    Chapman is just unfair. Love it. Ladies and gents, enjoy your evening of Opening Day.

  80. zgreds

    Best line ever: ” Cervelli said it smelled inside “

  81. BigRedMachine

    Votto is hitting .500. If only he had an RBI. But seriously all, fun game.

  82. The Next Janish

    First Place!!! Too bad for Cueto, it looks like Gregg will be reprising the role of Ondrusek/Hoover this year.

    • docmike

      I would take Hoover over Gregg 7 days a week.

  83. Frogger

    We already have Hoover. My heart can’t take Gregg in the bullpen as well. Brian Price was the only one in the stadium today that pitching Gregg in the 8th was a good idea.

    • PhoenixPhil

      Can’t imagine what was going through Bell and Pico’s mind when Price made that call.

      • RossGrimsley

        How long do they go with Gregg? He’s bee shaky for a couple of years, and his last ST appearance was awful. Today’s outing was scary. I hope Sam gets his game back in order sooner than later.

  84. Carl Sayre

    Opening day we have a a 2 run lead going into the 8th and an off day tomorrow why in the blazes did he not send Chapman out to start the 8th? I feel bad bad for Cueto pitched a gem and and Dusty Price had an idiot attack. I held my tounge last year because of the injuries but the sooner Price gets his walking papers the happier i will be. The positive side was they found a way to win in spite of the stupidity. The play Frazier made at 3rd was almost as sick as that HR and the gem that Hamilton flashed in center was wonderful. I know it wont happen but Winker should be the starting LF before the end of April.