All baseball fans love Opening Day. Maybe you share some of these sentiments:

You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen. Joe DiMaggio

Opening Day. All you have to do is say the words and you feel the shutters thrown wide, the room air out, the light pour in. In baseball, no other day is so pure with possibility. No scores yet, no losses, no blame or disappointment. No hangover, at least until the game’s over.journalist Mary Schmich

An Opener is not like any other game. There’s that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. … You know that when you win the first one, you can’t lose ’em all.Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn

and …

In Cincinnati, Opening Day is an unofficial local holiday, and has been for most of the past 150 years. This year, there is hope that the home team can be competitive or even more than that for the first time since a Wild-Card game appearance in 2013. Offense again appears to be the team’s strong point — perhaps the best in the National League. But defense and pitching are still question marks. Hope for pitching improvement will toe the rubber this season in the form of three veteran starters acquired through trades – Sonny Gray, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark.

Members of Redleg Nation have spent the last six months watching dramatic changes in organizational leadership and the team’s roster, hoping that a significant on-field improvement can happen. We still have much to learn about new Manager David Bell’s strategic tendencies, and that will also be very interesting to watch. This observer is particularly interested in how Bell will manage the fact that he does not have a player on the roster with an established track record as a defensive centerfielder. Will Michael Lorenzen, reportedly an outstanding defensive outfielder in college baseball, become a regular late-inning defensive replacement in center? Perhaps after pitching in a relief role later in the game?

The 150th anniversary season of professional baseball in the Queen City should be gripping in numerous ways, and it all begins today. Join us here now and all season long to share your thoughts on your favorite team with like-minded Reds fanatics.

Starting Pitchers

Jameson Taillon (2018) 191 3.20 3.58 22.8% 5.9%
Luis Castillo (2018) 169.2 4.30 3.69 23.3% 6.9%
Luis Castillo (Photo: Doug Gray)

Luis Castillo (Photo: Doug Gray)

At first glance of 2018 stats, Taillon would seem to have the advantage on paper. But check the xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) numbers. In his recent series of articles on measuring pitcher performance, our Steve Mancuso pointed out that the xFIP measure normalizes home runs across luck and stadiums. xFIP estimates how many home runs a pitcher should give up assuming normal luck. “It’s based on the notion that a pitcher only controls how many fly balls he surrenders, and that home runs are a fairly constant percentage of all fly balls (HR/FB) over time,” Mancuso wrote.

Pitching about half of the time in Great American Ball Park certainly doesn’t help Castillo’s or any other pitcher’s ERA. xFIP indicates that today’s starting pitching matchup shapes up as fairly even.

Starting Lineups

Pirates Reds
2B Adam Frazier LF Jesse Winker
RF Melky Cabrera 1B Joey Votto
LF Corey Dickerson RF Yasiel Puig
1B Josh Bell 3B Eugenio Suarez
C Francisco Cervelli CF Scott Schebler
3B Jung Ho Kang 2B Jose Peraza
CF J.B. Shuck C Tucker Barnhart
SS Erik Gonzalez SS Jose Iglesias
P Jameson Taillon P Luis Castillo

Both teams open the season with key starters on the injured list. Outfielder Gregory Polanco is in rehab from a shoulder injury suffered late last season, and subsequent surgery. He’s expected back perhaps in May. Of course, the Reds are without the potent bat of Scooter Gennett until sometime in May or June due to a groin muscle strain.

Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s Opening Day game is available all season long at

News and Notes

These moves finalized today’s 25-man roster:

Looks like the weather will be to the liking of Yasiel Puig and 40-plus thousand of his new admirers:

One of the more memorable Opening Day moments in recent history:

Breaking News

Shortly after the game thread went up the Cincinnati Reds announced that they had designated left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan for assignment and claimed right-handed pitcher Jose Lopez from the Giants and optioned him to Triple-A Louisville. Lopez, if you can remember all of the way back to February, was designated for assignment by the Reds who needed a spot opened on the 40-man roster. Less than two months later he’s now ahead of Finnegan on the totem pole.