Well here it is. March 31. It’s Opening Day and the beginning of the 2014 season. I could not be more excited… well maybe if we didn’t have an inch of snow fall this morning on Long Island. But snow aside, it is here. The Reds start off their 2014 campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds, trying to erase the bitter memories from the collapse of last season, vs the Cardinals, trying to stand up to the lofty expectations placed on them by nearly every “expert” in the game. I expect to see a close and competitive series. I want to take a few minutes to give a brief preview of the series and throw out my prediction for the next four days before the Reds make a trip out to NY.
Here are the pitching matchups for the next 3 games which offer up some pretty exciting match ups.
Game 1 (Monday @ 4:10 ET) A. Wainwright (R) vs J. Cueto (R)
Game 2 (Wednesday @ 7:10 ET) M. Wacha (R) vs T. Cingrani (L)
Game 3 (Thursday @ 12:35 ET) L. Lynn (R) vs H. Bailey (R)
I like the pitching matchups in all three games and do not give an edge to either team’s starters. I feel Wainwright and Cueto are going to put on a good duel. Both are top of the rotation pitchers and familiar with the opposition. Cueto has been up to the challenge the last two years on opening day putting up good numbers. I expect both pitchers to go relatively deep into the game for this early in the season and turn it over to the bullpen. Game 2 features two of the better young arms in the game, Tony Cingrani and Michael Wacha. Both are looking to build off of their rookie seasons and solidify the fact that they will be forces in the big leagues for years to come. Game 3 is the one where I see the Reds having the leg up. I think Homer Bailey will have a great first start silencing the critics of his massive new contract and gets the best of Lance Lynn.
The Reds offense has some questions to answer. Can Billy Hamilton really lead off in the Majors? My answer is yes. He had a fantastic spring and surpassed my expectations of him. I hope it carries over and he creates some havoc on the basepath. I really worry about the back half of the Reds lineup however. 1 – 4 I think the Reds are as good as anyone. 5 – 8 give me a different feeling. I just don’t know if they will produce at the level the Reds need them to. I have the feeling we will see some slow starts out of these guys. The Cardinals are a better offense from top to bottom with no real holes in the lineup.
I really see this series being won with the bullpens. The Reds bullpen scares me right now. The 3 big guns in the bullpen all start the year on the DL. They are replaced by 3 guys who were not expected to be players at any point this year. This is not a good sign. I think Hoover, LeCure, and Parra belong here, but as for the rest I don’t think they can get it done. Being this early in the season your starters may not be able to go late and I do not see the Reds bullpen hanging in there when guys like Logan Ondrusek, Curtis Partch, Nick Christiani, and Trevor Bell have to come in. Lets face it, Partch, Christiani, and Bell are no Chapman, Broxton, and Marshall. Ondrusek goes from being least likely used arm in the bullpen to the 4th guy in line. I just don’t see this group as being lights out. I think at least one game will be lost because of the bullpen not coming through. I really fear a starter having to get replaced early.
While the Reds will play tough and competitive in all 3 games, I see them dropping 2 of 3 in this series and starting the season off looking up at the Cards in the standings. I think we drop a hard fought and low scoring game 1. I think we will see more run production in game 2 but the Reds again falling on the wrong side of the scoreboard. My prediction is the Reds win their first game of the 2014 season on Thursday when Homer Bailey shuts down the Cards.
Here we go Reds fans. Enjoy this opening day. I think it is going to be a fun year.