The Cincinnati Reds named right-handed pitcher Tyler Mahle as their Opening Day starter on Wednesday afternoon. While being the Opening Day starter means plenty in many other places, it’s a little different for the Reds, who have traditionally opened up at home. Unfortunately that’s not happening this year after the owners lockout of the players led to the schedule being pushed back by a week. Now the Reds will open up on the road against the World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
If everything were normal, then perhaps the nod for Opening Day starter wouldn’t have gone to Tyler Mahle. Odds are that it would have gone to Luis Castillo, but he is behind schedule after having a sore shoulder set him back a few days in his preparation for the season. With the trade of Sonny Gray to Minnesota, and Wade Miley being lost on waivers in the offseason, the choice was seemingly easy to give the ball to Mahle at this point.
Last season the now 27-year-old posted a 3.75 ERA in a league best 33 starts. He allowed just 158 hits in 180.0 innings, walked just 64 batters, and he picked up 210 strikeouts on the season. The righty has made big strides in the last two seasons after posting an ERA of 5.06 between 2018 and 2019 he’s had an ERA of 3.72 since the start of 2020.
While Mahle hasn’t always had extreme home and road splits, he certainly did during the 2021 campaign. Last year when he was on the road he pitched like a Cy Young winner, posting a 2.30 ERA in 101.2 innings and allowing just five home runs. But when he was pitching at home last season he pitched like a swingman who was looking over his shoulder at Triple-A as he posted a 5.63 ERA in 78.1 innings and allowed 19 home runs. Perhaps opening up on the road could play into the favor for Mahle and the Reds on this one if that trend is going to continue in 2022, even if it’s at a lesser extreme.