The consensus is that there never is a bad time for a day off during a 162-game season. The Cincinnati Reds might beg to differ.
After a day off, the red-hot Reds will take the field for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ home opener on Friday in Phoenix.
Cincinnati’s first road trip of the season comes with the club on a five-game winning streak. The Reds have scored double-digit runs three times already and are averaging 9.5 runs per game while winning all but the season opener last week against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Rookie Jonathan India is batting .476 with 10 RBIs over his first six career games. Nick Castellanos and Tyler Naquin each have four home runs. Castellanos has 26 total bases and has even incited a brawl with the Cardinals in the season-opening series that earned him a two-game suspension. He is appealing the punishment.
“It’s amazing,” India said. “The energy we have in this locker room and this team, we play with heart. We play with a lot of pride. We’re just a bunch of ballers out there, that’s the bottom line. We know how to play baseball.”
The Reds went into their day off leading baseball in batting average (.316), slugging percentage (.602), OPS (1.002), home runs (14) and RBIs (54). And it has come without much production from six-time All-Star Joey Votto, who is 5-for-25 in the early going and does not have an extra-base hit.
Even with starters Sonny Gray and Michael Lorenzen on the injured list to start the season, the Reds have managed a 3.83 team ERA, in the middle of the pack among all MLB teams.
Right-hander Tyler Mahle (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second start of the season after surrendering two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts over five innings of his debut Wednesday against the Cardinals. Mahle has one career appearance against Arizona, allowing five runs over 4 1/3 innings in a start in 2019.
The Diamondbacks, who are an underwhelming 2-5 to start the season, will send right-hander Taylor Widener (1-0, 0.00) to the mound on Friday.
Widener, who has never faced the Reds, scattered three hits over six scoreless innings in his first major league start on Sunday against the San Diego Padres. It was the rare impressive start from the Arizona rotation.
After making 12 relief appearances to begin his major league career last season, Widener showed that a starting role suits him. He struck out five batters at San Diego.
While the Arizona starting staff has underperformed, so has the offense. The Diamondbacks were shut out at Colorado on Wednesday and were held hitless into the seventh inning the following day by the Rockies’ Jon Gray in a 7-3 defeat.
Arizona placed infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte (hamstring) on the injured list Thursday to join shortstop Nick Ahmed (knee).
“With Ketel going down, it obviously stings,” Diamondbacks catcher Stephen Vogt said. “You know, we still feel like we’ve got the people in the room that we’re going to rally around each other and step up.”
–Field Level Media