The Reds open the road portion of the 2018 season tonight  in Pittsburgh against Pirates at 7:05 kicking off what is scheduled to be a four game weekend series. During the off season, the Pirates continued to disassemble their core group which  crested with 3 consecutive wild card appearances in 2013-15 but  recorded  sub .500 seasons in 2016-17.  The most notable departures this past off season were former NL MVP outfielder Lawrence McCutcheon and starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. Nonetheless, the Pirates are off to a 4-1 start and  lead the NL Central a week into the season which is more than can be said for the Reds.

Starting Pitchers

Homer Bailey makes his second start of the season. Hopes are high that Bailey will demonstrate his outstanding start on opening day was not a fluke and that he will prove capable of consistently posting many similar results as the season unfolds. As has been said many times before of Bailey, it all comes down to his health.

In his prior start, Bailey threw 104 pitches to create the 18 outs required to complete 6 innings of 1 run baseball. This works out to 5.8 pitches an out.  Through his first 5 innings, he had created 15 outs on just 73 pitches, right at a full pitch less per out than his final game aggregate.  That 1 pitch per out difference is also the difference between a 6 and at least 7 inning outing. Keep an eye on his pitch per out rate tonight as a way of measuring whether Bailey is progressing.

Steven Brault, a not quite 26 year old left hander, gets the starting call tonight for the Pirates. Brault  was a 2013 11th round draft pick of the Orioles who came the Pirates in 2015 as the player to be named later in the trade which sent Travis Snider to the Orioles.  In 2016 and 2017, Brault split time between AAA and MLB making a combined 19 MLB appearances of which 11 were starts. Brault made the 2018 Pirates as a bullpen guy and worked 3 innings during the Pirates season opener last week. Due to a weather induced doubleheader on Sunday, the Pirates found themselves needing an additional arm to start  tonight’s game, thus the call went out to Brault.

The numbers (2017 MLB)

Homer Bailey 4.98 1.09 10.0 16.0
Steven Brault 5.58 0.78 8.6 14.2


Consecutive off days behind them, the Reds appear to have no bullpen issues. However with 14 games in 14 days before their next day off, Bryan Price needs to be mindful of how he uses his pen. Anyone want to take a guess on the over/ under of how many times we will see the Louisville to Cincinnati bullpen shuttle in these next 14 days?

Even though tonight will be the Pirates fifth game in as many days due to a Sunday doubleheader, they  did have an off day on Tuesday.  Tyler Glasnow worked  3 innings of relief last night and figures to be unavailable tonight.  As noted above, their starter tonight, Steven Brault, also normally works out of the pen.  Thus the Pirates could be in a crunch if Brault struggles early. Unlike the Reds, the Pirates have an off day early next week and otherwise appear to be in good shape.



1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Adam Duvall (LF)
5. Scooter Gennett (2B)
6. Jesse Winker (RF)
7. Jose Peraza (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Homer Bailey (P) 


1. Josh Harrison (2B)
2. Gregory Polanco (RF)
3. Starling Marte (CF)
4. Josh Bell (1B)
5. Corey Dickerson (LF)
6. David Freese (3B)
7. Francisco Cervelli (C)
8. Jordy Mercer (SS)
9. Steven Brault (P) 

BIlly Hamilton again as the lead off man versus a LH pitcher. Why not a look at Phil Ervin? Also, once again Devin Mesoraco sits when the Reds are facing a LH pitcher. I’m almost starting to wonder if Mesoraco could have some sort of health issue. Then there is  (not) Scott Schebler. Is his elbow still aching or  is he sitting because of a leftie on the mound versus the Reds?

News and Notes

Brandon Finnegan and Cody Reed both threw a “simulated game” yesterday against batters from the Reds AAA affiliate Louisville Bats.  Redleg Nation’s Jason Linden was there and filed the following reports via Twitter:

And for those of us hoping to see a certain MLB debut as soon as service time considerations make it prudent, here is this from Jason:

Final Thoughts

Many folks think that the Pirates ongoing cycling from contention to rebuild mode offers the Reds their best chance in several years of escaping from the NL Central cellar.  Weather permitting the two teams will have at each other four times in the upcoming days. We might have a better idea by Sunday evening of how the two teams stack up versus each other this season. However bear in mind that the Reds went 13-6 last season versus the Pirates; yet overall, the Pirates finished 7 games better than the Reds which would infer that against the rest of MLB, the Pirates were 14 games better than the Reds. That’s baseball and why they play the games. Go Reds.

Stats and data from Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and