“Opening Day!” This annual cornerstone is finally upon us and there is no place that does Opening Day better than the Queen City.
This opening day will be a true test as the Cincinnati Reds goes up against arguably the best team in the American League, the Los Angeles Angels. Also interesting is that with an interleague game to start the season, we could be seeing a World Series preview here in April, or at least one can only hope.
Many storylines have arisen for this first game, with one of the biggest being Josh Hamilton’s homecoming. Another storyline to watch and perhaps the biggest one of 2013 is the health of Joey Votto, who proved his health this spring training slugging four home runs and hitting an incredible .346.
The pitching matchup: Johnny Cueto (2012) 19-9/ 2.78 ERA vs. Jered Weaver (2012) 20-5 2.81 ERA
Two goliaths of the pitching realm square off on Monday at Great American and both will be looking to build on the best seasons of their career in 2012. Cueto is now fully healthy from his oblique injury that knocked him out of the Red’s postseason last October and is ready to resume the role of staff ace.
He also started the most games of any pitcher in the National League last year and the most of his young career. So consequently, a little bit of wear and tear should be expected, and Reds fans should not be worried about his durability. Cueto put up the third-best ERA and win total in all of the National League in 2012 and at the prime age of 27 his ceiling is sky high for 2013
However Jered Weaver is no slouch either. Weaver has been an All-Star the last three years and in 2012 opponents only hit a miniscule .214 off of him, the best batting average against in the entire American League.
Reds player on the rise: Todd Frazier
The Reds have put a lot of faith in their young third baseman by not only giving him the starting job, but eliminating all of his competition by not resigning veteran Scott Rolen. Frazier had a stellar rookie campaign last year, hitting 19 home runs and driving in 67 runs while playing in only 82 percent of the season.
Frazier had a hot spring this year belting five home runs in only 57 at-bats, and his protection of Jay Bruce will be a key factor in just how successful the Reds offense can be.
Reds players on the demise: Mike Leake
Cincinnati’s former first-round draft pick had his worst year by far in 2012. Playing on a Reds team that won 97 games, Leake managed to only win eight. His ERA was a career and staff-worst 4. 58, and he was the only Reds starting pitcher to lose more games than he won.
It was fully expected that if Aroldis Chapman became a starter that Leake would be the odd man out, but with Chapman now remaining a closer, Leake will continue as the fifth starter in hopes of turning his career around.
Today’s game as always will be broadcast on 700 AM WLM and can be seen on Fox Sports Ohio starting at 4 pm EST.
See you at Great American Ballpark. Happy Opening Day everyone.
Vinny Carozza is a MLB/Cincinnati Reds writer for Rants Sports. You can follow him on twitter @VinnyCarozza.