Manager: Bryan Price (4th season)
Last 10 games: 6-4
Who to watch: SS Zack Cozart (.432, 7 RBIs), 3B Eugenio Suárez (.384, 3 HR, 10 RBIs), LF Adam Duvall (3 HR, 7 RBIs), CF Billy Hamilton (5 SB), 1B Joey Votto (3 HR, 6 RBIs), LHP Amir Garrett (2-0, 1.42 ERA), RHP Raisel Iglesias (1.17 ERA, 3 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (0-3 in 2014)
Inside the Reds:
The National League Central-leading Reds entertain the American League East-leading Orioles for their first interleague action of the season, and Cincinnati is hoping to improve on a 5-15 record against AL clubs last season. Facing the AL East will be no picnic, and since Great American Ball Park is a notorious launching pad, the onus will be on Reds pitching to keep Baltimore sluggers at bay. Aside from first baseman Joey Votto and speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton, the Reds roster doesn’t have a ton of name recognition. They’ve managed to get off to a 8-5 start, much better than most prognosticators thought they could in a season where they’re expected to reside at the bottom of the NL Central. At 26 years, 355 days, the average age on the opening day Reds roster is the youngest in the majors. But these type of presumed second-division teams can’t be overlooked. Do that, and they tend to make you wish you hadn’t.
The Reds have been a potent offensive club in the early going, boasting a .457 slugging percentage that’s third in the majors and stealing 13 bases, tops in the bigs. They’re hitting a lot of home runs - no surprise considering their home park - but they’re getting little production from Votto, who is languishing with a .208/.291/.458 slash line that’s helped by three homers, and Hamilton, who might have more than five swipes if he were batting better than .235. Shortstop Zack Cozart, the subject of endless trade speculation since last season, is off to a .432/.488/.730 start, while third baseman Eugenio Suárez has driven in 10 runs, tied with second baseman Scooter Gennett for the team lead. Left fielder Adam Duvall is hitless in his last 11 at-bats, but coming off a 33-homer, 103-RBI breakout campaign.
Forty-year-old Bronson Arroyo, who has resurrected his career after a series of injuries that threatened to send him into retirement, starts Tuesday’s series opener. After missing two seasons, he worked his way back into a contract with the Reds, though the results have been less than impressive: an 0-2 record, 9.90 ERA and four homers allowed in 10 innings. In 10 career outings, including six starts, against the Orioles, Arroyo is 3-2 with a 5.82 ERA. He hates facing J.J. Hardy, who owns a 9-for-30 slate with five homers off the righty. At the opposite end of the age spectrum is rookie Amir Garrett, who starts Wednesday, and the Reds look like they’ve got themselves a find in the 24-year-old southpaw, who will be making his first career appearance against the Orioles. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but he’s gone 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 0.711 WHIP in his two starts. But both of those outings have come on the road; let’s see how he does in his home launching pad against a team capable of mashing home runs. Veteran right-hander Scott Feldman, an Oriole in 2013, was the Reds’ opening day starter after signing as a free agent in January. He’s posted a career 5-2 mark and 4.34 ERA in 17 games (nine starts) against the Orioles. The home run ball has bitten Feldman over the past couple of years - he’s allowed 12 longballs in 89 2/3 innings - so expect the Orioles to be aggressive against him.
Reds relievers have spun a 2.65 ERA that’s second in the National League. The bullpen is populated by some decent arms that started their careers in the rotation. Among them is right-hander Raisel Iglesias, who has three saves, a 1.17 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP.