Opening Day! 5-2 win over the dreaded Pirates!
So why was the radio full of people calling in and complaining? Does one game mean anything? In this case, it does. Opening day, especially in Cincinnati, is an epic holiday. More people get off work for Opening Day than they do for Good Friday and New Years. With that level of mystique, the Reds organization knows that Opening Day is a win at all cost situation. Just like the playoffs, you have to start off strong in order to ensure a solid fan base (an issue in past years) and set the tone for the whole season.
The head shaking began when Bryan Price decided to use Opening Day as a tryout for unproven pitchers. Johnny Cueto pitched a hell of a shutout game. Was he pulled from the mound too early? Maybe. But who came in to pitch after him? Kevin Gregg, a guy who posted a 10.00 ERA last year in 9 innings with the Marlins. He carries a career ERA of 4.17. None of those stats bode particularly well for Mr. Gregg or the Reds. He's only been on the team for a month or two and hasn't pitched regularly in years. Opening Day is not the right venue to hand him a baseball and see if he is ready for the big leagues. Especially in a game that was close at 2-0. Especially when Jumbo Diaz, a fan-favorite reliever who had a decent 2014, had been warming up for a whole inning! Gregg's name never appeared on the in-park screen for bullpen activity.
So what happened when Gregg took the mound? If you didn't watch the game, the recap doesn't take more than a word: crushed. Everything he threw was hit. Everything. Every pitch Gregg tried was squared and rocketed to the wall, until one finally went out off the bat of the Reds' nemesis, Andrew McCutchen. The collective groan inside Great American Ballpark was overwhelming.
If I managed the Reds, Gregg never would have taken the mound. If he somehow did, he should have been pulled after the first 2 batters. If everyone is slamming balls to the fence, the pitcher needs to be pulled before a homer is hit and the score is tied.
Thankfully, Todd Frazier came through with an amazing homer of his own and put the game away.
Another disturbing realization for a lot of fans after Opening Day: the Reds have trouble scoring runs without the long ball. Looks like that hasn't changed yet...
How long will it take for Cueto to get a decision with a less than capable bullpen and a manager that doesn't know how to use it?