Great start, not-so-great finish.
The Cincinnati Reds came out of Opening Weekend with more questions than answers after the Detroit Tigers—the team that went 47-114 last season, worst in Major League Baseball—took two of three.
Cincinnati outdid Detroit on nearly all facets such as total runs (13-10) and total hits (21-18). Reds starting pitchers even out-pitched the Tigers’ starters by a historic margin.
Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer combined for 33 strikeouts as starters, which tied the Texas Rangers in 2013 for most in a team’s first three games. In fact, the Reds’ pitching staff has never compiled 10 or more strikeouts in each of its first three games of the season since 1893.
It’s remarkable to note that Gray, Castillo and Bauer all did not allow more than one run or six hits in their outings. The trio only walked four batters in their combined 18.1 innings of work.
The top of the rotation seems to be as advertised after the first tests and now Wade Miley and Tyler Mahle, who is starting Tuesday in place of injured Anthony DeSclafani, have a chance to round out the impressive rotation.
Despite the strong work by the starters, the Reds’ bullpen has struggled and seems to be the most questionable part of the roster. The Tigers combined to score seven runs after the sixth inning during Saturday and Sunday’s games.
Michael Lorenzen is responsible for allowing three runs, two of which came from C.J. Cron’s game-winning two-run homer on Sunday. Raisel Iglesias and Robert Stephenson both surrendered two runs and allowed a total of five hits.
The offense is averaging just over four runs a game, and Joey Votto is perhaps the team’s best hitter so far with a .385 batting average after hitting home runs in each of the first two games. Shortstop Freddy Galvis follows as he is hitting .300 with three runs scored while driving in a pair with a two-run home run on Saturday.
However, the lineup will be lacking some thump for an unknown amount of time.
Mike Moustakas went four-for-eight and drove in four runs before getting placed on the injured list on Sunday. He and Nick Senzel reportedly did not feel well on Sunday morning and they were scratched from the original lineup in the series finale.
Infielder Matt Davidson went on the injured list on Saturday after a positive test for COVID-19. Davidson was in the dugout and started at designated hitter on Friday, so perhaps the three cases were linked. It remains unknown how long the trio will be out or if subsequent players will be affected.
With Detroit in the rearview for the work week, sights are set on the Chicago Cubs for a four-game set in Cincinnati.
Chicago went 2-1 against the Milwaukee Brewers but its offense was held to a middling .232 average. However, the Cubs’ six home runs are tied for third-most in baseball.
The bullpen, the offense and the health of its players are Cincinnati’s biggest questions heading out of the weekend. Perhaps players are still getting loose, but with the shortened season heightening the emphasis of each game, the Reds are tasked with finding a quick solution.
First pitch for Monday’s game against the Cubs is set for 6:40 p.m. EST as a battle of lefties is billed between Jon Lester and Wade Miley.