This feels normal, right? Well, no, not really. It’s July 24th and we are just now having Opening Day. But on the bright side of things, if we don’t think much about what got us here, we are here and we are getting Cincinnati Reds baseball today and hopefully for the next three months.

There’s a lot of new things for the 2020 season. There’s a 30-man roster to begin the year. We now have playoffs that will include EIGHT teams from each league (more on that tomorrow). Relief pitchers must face at least three hitters before being removed (unless they end an inning before that). The National League will have the designated hitter. For now there will be no fans in the stands. The Toronto Blue Jays are going to be playing their home games in Buffalo. There will be no outside divisional play, except with the same division in the opposite league. No west coast trips. No east coast trips. Embrace the weird. Embrace the different. There is going to be a whole lot of that going on in sports, and in baseball this year.

With the Cincinnati Reds specifically, 2020 is going to feel different, too. On the field there are additions to the team that are a part of the reason they are the favorites to win the division. On the pitching staff the team picked up left-handed starter Wade Miley, who until he began tipping his pitches in September, was one of the better arms in the American League last season. The bullpen saw the pick up of Pedro Strop, who prior to 2019 had dominated the National League Central for the previous six seasons. On the offensive side the team added outfielders Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama, while also picking up second baseman Mike Moustakas in free agency. To say the team tried to improve their offense would be an understatement.

Off of the field things are a bit different, too. Marty Brennamen will not be on the radio for the call for the first time in many of our lifetimes. The broadcaster retired following the 2019 season. The new combination of Tommy Thrall and Jeff Brantley will be taking over the radio booth full time this year – something that we’ve heard before as Thrall has filled in during the past, but also something that might take a little getting used to for those who tend to follow the games on the radio a lot more often than they do on television.

There is no Findlay Markey Opening Day Parade. The Banks will probably be packed to the point of following the state guidelines, but it will be a very different look from the thousands packing the area around the ballpark on Opening Day that we are used to seeing and experiencing. The game is an evening one, which will make how those of us who aren’t at the ballpark take in the event quite a bit different, too. Once again – Embrace the weird.

The Match Up

Last year the Detroit Tigers were the worst team in baseball. It wasn’t even close. The Tigers won 47 whole games. Baltimore was the next worst team in the game and they won 54. Detroit had a .292 winning percentage, which…. well, it’s not good. They are once again expected to be among the worst teams in baseball – but they play the games for a reason, too. There have been World Series champions who were outscored in the regular season, and teams that hoisted the trophy despite winning just 83 games.

For the Reds, the offseason was huge. Cincinnati’s first true dive into free agency in 30+ years got the town, and the baseball world talking. They are the favorites to win the division this year. The rotation should be improved, and it was awfully good last season. The offense also looks to be improved, and it certainly needs to be better than it was in 2019.

When and Where

  • Game time: 6:10pm ET
  • Where: Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark
  • Watch: Fox Sports Ohio, MLB Network (out of market only), Fox Sports Detroit,
  • Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
  • Forecast: Sunny and 85° at first pitch, 0% chance of rain.

Starting Pitchers

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP BB% K%
Sonny Gray 1751 2.87 1.08 9.6% 29.0%
Matthew Boyd 185.1 4.56 1.23 6.3% 30.2%
Stats from the 2019 Season

Sonny Gray

The 2019 National League All-Star and Cy Young contender gets the nod on Opening Day for the Reds for the first time. After a solid first half, Sonny Gray put together a second half where he posted a 2.12 ERA in 14 starts with 102 strikeouts in 85.0 innings. He had bone chips in his elbow removed following the regular season, but looked strong in Goodyear and back in Cincinnati once Summer Camp began.

Gray will bring hitters a lot of different looks. The right-handed pitcher throws a 4-seam fastball 28% of the time, a sinker 21% of the time, a curveball 25% of the time, a slider 21% of the time, a change up 3% of the time, and he will occasionally throw a cutter according to Brooks Baseball. According to the Pitch Values at Fangraphs, the sinker, slider, change up, and curveball are all above-average pitches, while the 4-seamer was below-average in 2019.

Matthew Boyd

When you look at the stats above the clear edge last year went to Sonny Gray, but in some areas the edge was there for Matthew Boyd. The Tigers left-handed starter had a better walk rate – well above-average – and his strikeout rate was higher, too. Not shown above, though, is where all of the difference in the world came from with regards to the overall performance: Home Runs allowed. Boyd served up 39 homers, the highest number in the American League last year. Everyone in the game pretty much saw a boost in their home run rate due to the baseball that was used last season, but even in 2018 Boyd saw his home run rate climb.

For the most part, Boyd is a fastball and slider guy. His fastball, working around 93 MPH, comes to hitters 54% of the time. The slider is a pitch he threw 35% of the time in 2019. The lefty will bring a change up and curveball about 5-6% of the time. The Fangraphs pitch values had his slider as an above-average pitch, but everything else that he threw in 2019 as being below-average, with his curveball getting crushed.

Starting Lineups

Detroit Tigers

Cincinnati Reds

Nike Goodrum – SS Phillip Ervin – LF
Jonathan Schoop – 2B Joey Votto – 1B
Miguel Cabrera – DH Eugenio Suarez – 3B
C.J. Cron – 1B Nick Castellanos – RF
Christin Stewart – LF Mike Moustakas – 2B
Jeimer Candelario – 3B Matt Davidson – DH
Cameron Maybin – RF Nick Senzel – CF
Austin Romine – C Freddy Galvis – SS
JaCoby Jones – CF Curt Casali – C
Matthew Boyd – SP Sonny Gray – SP

With a left-handed starter on the mound, David Bell is going with a right-handed heavy lineup. Phillip Ervin and his .349/.411/.628 line from last year against lefties will lead off. Matt Davidson, who was added to the 30-man roster this morning (more on that below) gets the start at the designated hitter position, too. He has a history of beating up left-handed pitchers in his career as well. Curt Casali is behind the plate instead of Tucker Barnhart, though that almost assuredly has more to do with Sonny Gray being on the mound than the lefty/righty hitter thing.

Among the Reds lineup only Mike Moustakas and Matt Davidson have more than six plate appearances against Matthew Boyd. Both have had some success, too. Moustakas is 8-21 (.381) with three doubles and a homer. Davidson is 4-13 (.308) with a double, triple, and a homer to go along with three walks (1.207 OPS).

News and Notes

It’s Opening Day and there’s a lot of news, so let’s dive on in.

The Reds have traded Scott Schebler to Atlanta

After being designated for assignment earlier in the week, Scott Schebler has now been traded to the Atlanta Braves. The return for Schebler is not yet known, but only players on the 60-man player pool can be traded – so that’s where the player will be coming from.

Reds trade Scott Schebler to the Atlanta Braves

Matt Davidson, Christian Colon added to the 30-man roster

This morning the Reds added both Matt Davidson and Christian Colon to the roster. Both players were non-roster invites and required moves to be placed on the 40-man roster (and in turn, the 30-man roster). To create room the team designated relievers Justin Shafer and Josh Smith for assignment.

Reds add Matt Davidson, Christian Colon to the Opening Day roster

A Guarantee: The Reds will win the division

Chad Dotson, host of the Redleg Nation Radio Podcast, founder of this here wonderful website, and all around good guy wrote about Opening Day and the 2020 season for Cincinnati Magazine and he is guaranteeing that the Reds will win the division.

Opening Day is finally upon us, the start of a 60-game sprint unlike anything we’ve ever seen. And when the smoke clears at the end of this season, your Cincinnati Reds are going to be champions of the National League Central division, Sugar Bear. That’s my iron-clad, money-back guarantee to you, Dear Reader. Even better, you don’t have to take my word for it. The computers agree!

The Toronto Blue Jays will play in Buffalo

After Canada’s government said that the Blue Jays couldn’t play baseball in the country (because of the constant in-and-out of the country for both them and their opponents), Toronto’s baseball team had to search for alternate options. They wanted to play in a big league stadium for many reasons – and the Pittsburgh Pirates opened up PNC Park to them. There was a problem, though – the state of Pennsylvania said no. The search was back on, and despite it being the long rumored landing spot that was put on the back burner because of some facility questions and lighting that wasn’t MLB standard (this is mostly for television purposes), the Blue Jays have landed in Buffalo – their Triple-A home. The stadium is having it’s lighting upgraded before they begin playing there next week.


53 Responses

  1. VaRedsFan

    It’s very important to get off to a fast start. (understatement of the year??) 5-1 vs the Tigers in their 6 games.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    The wait is finally over! It’s been 6 excruciating years since this team has been relevant. We deserve a good season for hanging in there all this time.

    With each gaming being so meaningful, lineup construction does matter more than usual. I hate to be a negative Nelly on Opening Day, but I don’t see how Votto qualifies to hit second vs. a LHP given his .656 OPS against them last year. Bowing to veteran privilege is the last pillar of the old regime that needs to come down. Outside of that, I love the lineup and more importantly, I love the bench talent ready to be weaponized later in the game.

    • VaRedsFan

      I agree with the Votto comment. He looked putrid at the plate (SSS) from what I’ve seen. He’s gone back to the deep crouch, check swing approach, which he failed miserably at for 1.5 seasons, before abandoning it and emerging to respectable numbers for the 2nd half of last year.

      • Keith

        Well, this worked out ok. Have some faith!

  3. VaRedsFan

    I’ll go out on a limb and say Davidson will be the Reds hitting star today.

    • Matt WI

      I’m with you VA, I think he’s got a HR in him tonight. GABP in July can be a beautiful thing for such accomplishments!

  4. seadog

    Lets first say–Thank You Doug for hanging in. Not been easy I know.

    Baseball/Baseball–Lets go. I will tell my age now I am comparing this team to 1976. That team started off 4-0. After 10 they were 6-4 At 20 they were 11-9. After 60 they were 38-22. I can see this from this team. May be a “stretch” but they are similar/

    Everyone knows this team has to start off good. That team in 76 lost to the likes of Neikro/Mcgraw early in the season. Look it up

    1990 is also similar. Great early start.

    Just sayin

    • Doug Gray

      It’s been an “interesting” journey the last few months to say the least. Here’s to hoping for the best!

      • seadog

        Interesting To say the least. I know you have done it multiple times– Let everyone know how to “support” you.

        This team is good. Hopefully, your sites will blow up. You deserve it.

  5. seadog

    Awesome call—Few people in Reds land see that. Let me take it a step further..

    Suarez has a good contract. Castellanos as well. I think the “player” the Reds have picked up that will make the most difference this year is Galvis.

    Suarez is from Venezuela. Galvis is as well. Suarez/Galvis are (In my humble opinion) the best 3rb/SS from a contract standpoint that any one has in all of baseball.

    Look for them to sign Galvis. I would. 29 years old/30 years old. Forget about Lindor. I prefer FREDDY…

    • Greenfield Red

      I think Jose Garcia will the starting shortstop by May 1, 2021.

  6. Indy Red Man

    My vote is Aquino > Davidson all day. It could very well work out tonight since Davidson has seen Boyd alot, but Aquino is so good defensively and he can run. AA>Ervin really improves your defense.

    My other question related to this is how is Castellanos arm because AA has a cannon! Puig showed how valuable a big arm in RF can be in a small park like GABP. He could turn a few doubles into singles (or outs) and the ball better be near the track if you want an uncontested sac fly. AA has nearly the same cannon that Puig has!

    Evidently Dish is fighting with Fox? I may have to follow this team by 700 wlw. Last time I did that was 1990 and that turned out ok!! Go Reds!!!

  7. Indy Red Man

    Boyd gave up 39 bombs though….and thats pitching half his games in Comerica which is one of the biggest parks in mlb. I think the Reds take him deep twice thru 5, hopefully with some guys on.

  8. Mark Moore


    Even with Thom rambling on, I’ll take it. Let’s see what Moose can do with his opportunity in the 1st.

  9. Broseph

    Tom was all about Davidson. Sounds lime his new favorite pet. “Oh he just missed it….I’m telling you he just missed it” (infield fly to the pitcher’s mound). I’m not down on Davidson, about that, it’s game one AB 1, but if that were Votto, he’d be shaming him until tomorrow.

    • Broseph

      Aside from my horrid spelling, Thom just bugs me as an announcer, even more so than Marty. Bragging about Cabrera’s 1700 RBIs etc. and then the Davidson call.

      Luckily it’s only 60 games of him this year

  10. Broseph

    Sonny not horribly efficient today and missing some spots, but his stuff looks good. Breaking balls helping out with a few DPs. I’ll take more of this kind of baseball please.

    • Colorado Red

      I will take 6 innings and 1 run every time out.
      Nice job.

    • Doc

      15 pitches per inning. Isn’t that the accepted norm nowadays?

  11. Broseph

    Noticed he’s back to his crouched stance, golf practice swing and mumbling to himself between pitches already. Hoping for him to have a nice numbers year ina short season and a few decent years for a HOF bid.

  12. Mark Moore

    Nick and Moose!!! Single, Double, and 3 RBI’s between them already. That’s a good start.

  13. Rick

    This is my first game this year (didn’t see any pre-season or last night). Curious what folks are thinking about the experience. It’s certainly weird without anyone in the stands, but not as weird as I thought it’d be. Already missing Marty. Not a fan of Thom, but WLW overlay not working on MLB.TV (which I have to go through on a VPN because I’m in Detroit and Fox REALLY wants me to get cable again.)

  14. Broseph

    It’s game one and the Tigers, but it’s a welcome sight to see some offense. It’s hard seeing this team having any prolonged slumps like last season

  15. seadog

    I am not a fan of Thom, But many of you probably do not understand. He is a product of Cincinnati. He went to school at Anderson. Buy into the Red’s Buy into local talent

    Buy into our “local” teams…. ORGANIZATIONS– Do any of you understand/care that?? Does anyone realize that Cameron Maybin played in Cincy as a youth???

    Soo much history/teams/organizations in Cincy that nobody cares about.

    • Doug Gray

      Edited this one. Language…. let’s keep it clean.

  16. Roger Garrett

    Its early but are we sure Davidson is our best option off the bench and/or as a DH against a lefty.Hope it works for us and him but he just doesn’t seem to fit in.I guess I just like AA in that role but I do understand the Reds rewarding Davidson for what he did over the last few tune up games.

    • Indy Red Man

      Davidson>AA is an insult to AA imo. Davidson was almost out of baseball or trying to convert to pitching a few years ago. Plus AA could help in other phases of the game. I’m done with this subject.

      I will say I know it’s 2nd guessing, but had a feeling we wouldn’t score again after Davidson popped out in the first. Would’ve liked to see Senzel surprise them with a bunt, but Suarez was on 3rd

  17. Tom Mitsoff

    Agreed. Gray is getting the benefit of the doubt on close pitches, some of which appear to be outside of the “Fox box.”

  18. Tom Mitsoff

    Nice diving stop and throw by Moustakas!

    • Mark Moore

      Hey Tom … when is Strato doing the rest of the season?

      • Doug Gray

        Not Tom, but I’ll chime in. It’s done. Post written up for Sunday by Tom waiting to go. We haven’t posted it yet because with all of the stuff going on with rosters/news yesterday, opening day today (and previously scheduled posts) – we didn’t want it to just get buried and no one see it.

      • Mark Moore

        Thanks, Doug. Looking forward to it.

  19. Jack

    I always hate guys who “earned” a spot in spring training as if their career prior to that wasn’t a 100 times more important.

  20. CFD3000

    Joe. E. Votto!!

    100 runs in 60 games? Gotta have goals, right? Wow!

    • Jefferson Green

      120! Opening Day optimism reigns.

  21. Mark Moore

    That’ll do, Sonny, that’ll do. Nice first outing and good support from the guys.

  22. ClevelandRedsFan

    Votto maybe changing his approach a bit? He is smoking the ball and hitting it hard.

    Last few years, everyone pitched Votto inside knowing he likes to hit opposite field.

    Votto is saying, I see you. Telling all pitchers if you bring it inside, imma punish you.

  23. CFD3000

    What a nice start for Sonny Gray. Think Castillo and Bauer are motivated to pitch as well over the weekend? Now let’s see the bullpen lock this down.

  24. Mark Moore


    Patient guy (small sample size)

  25. Tom Mitsoff

    SHOGO! You could see he needed a couple of pitches to catch up to the speed of the Tiger pitcher, and he delivered!

  26. Tom Mitsoff

    You can’t ask for any more than all of the new players have done today!

  27. Mark Moore

    Got to win the first one to accomplish that … looks like we just might make that start.

  28. Mark Moore

    That’ll do, Reds … that’ll do!

  29. Colorado Red

    Yes, but the team stinks.
    Chance to make hay, and get a lead.
    GO REDS 7 – 1

  30. Colorado Red

    Watching the Reds on the laptop. and the Rockies on TV.
    The Rockies announcers are worse.

  31. Jefferson Green

    Undefeated! Now to go wire-to-wire…

  32. Kevin Patrick

    I was pleased with Sims, Jones, and Raley…if you would have told me those three guys were going to throw shutout innings in the opener during Spring Training, I’d of called you nuts. The only thing that bugged me tonight was Winker getting that called third strike on a pitch that was definitely outside. I hope he has the mental fortitude to stay focused this year…lot of competition out there.

  33. JayTheRed

    We might see the Punisher at some point this season. I feel like he might have a better chance next year especially if Castellanos goes to greener pastures.

    Gray looked pretty good tonight Really all the pitchers looked good for game one. Please lord let Votto continue his hot start and have 2 or 3 hits every night the first week to give him a good start.

    1 down 59 more to go. Go Reds!!!