The Cincinnati Reds are hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates today in a 4:10 p.m. game that kicks off the teams’ 2019 Major League Baseball seasons. Here are five things to know about the Reds and today’s game.
A history of rallies: If the Reds fall behind today, don’t give up hope. In their last eight openers, the Reds are 4-4. Three of those four victories featured comebacks. The 2016 game was a 6-2 win over the Phillies, with the Reds scoring five runs in the eighth inning. The 2015 game was a 5-2 victory over the Pirates, thanks to three runs in the eighth. And many still remember the 2011 game, as the Reds won 7-6 over the Brewers on Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off homer in the ninth.
A familiar opposing face: Today’s Opening Day game features Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon on the mound. The Reds beat Taillon, 3-0, in his last regular-season start, Sept. 29 at Great American Ball Park. In 2018, Taillon allowed the Reds only one run in 14 innings in two Pirate wins in Pittsburgh, but he gave up 10 runs in 17.1 innings in three games in Cincinnati, two of which the Reds won.
Today is just one game: Winning on Opening Day is not necessarily a good omen. The Reds made the postseason three times this decade (2010, 2012, 2013), but they lost their season opener in two of those three years. The last year they won a playoff series (yes, way back in 1995), they started the season 0-6.
The pitching looks different: 2018 holdover Luis Castillo pitches for the Reds today, but most of the staff is different. Last year, the Reds began the season with an injury reclamation project who would go 1-14 (Homer Bailey), plus four guys who had career MLB win totals of 3 (Castillo), 5 (Sal Romano), 1 (Tyler Mahle) and 1 (Cody Reed). This year, once Alex Wood returns from injury, the rotation will feature three guys who have a top-10 Cy Young finish on their resume — with Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark the other two.
New concept with the lineup: Just two years ago, the Reds’ No. 1 and No. 2 hitters on Opening Day were Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza. That pair combined to steal 82 bases in 2017, but their on-base percentages were in the .290s, among the worst in the National League. Today’s top of the lineup is Jesse Winker and Joey Votto, who last year had only two steals (both Votto’s) but both were top-five in the league in getting on base, with numbers over .400.
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