The Rundown: Cubs Even Steven to Start Season, Reds Season Preview, Yelich and Cain Off to Torrid Start for Brewers

Splitting the opening series in Miami was not something I had considered, truth be told. Even Steven is no way to win a championship. Something seems amiss. I feel a great disturbance in the force.

To recap:

Even Steven. Remember when the word “meh” had its run of popularity that coincided with the demise of MySpace and the launch of Twitter? If I could describe the entire series in one word, it would be “meh.”

On to Cincinnati, the focus of today’s NL Central preview.

Reds manager Bryan Price summed up the 2018 Reds when he said: “The young guys in the rotation are going to continue to work hard and get confidence and consistency at this level.”

Young indeed, except for Homer Bailey, who it seems has been around forever. The 11-year veteran has pitched a grand total of 125 innings since 2014 due to various injuries.

It’s been a painful rebuild in Cincinnati, one that seems like it is an annual rite. The Reds won 90 games in 2013, the last year they played watchable baseball, and then decided to tear the whole thing down. Pitching has been Cincinnati’s biggest weakness in that span. The Reds staff gave up the most homers in the majors last season and finished dead last in the NL in runs (869), walks (631), and ERA (5.17).

The bullpen was equally bad, giving up the most walks and runs in the NL last season. Cincinnati signed late-inning relievers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez, and closer Raisel Iglesias returns after converting 28 of 30 save chances.

Cool fact
Last season Scooter Gennett joined Lou Gehrig as the only players in major league history with a four-homer game and four grand slams in a single season. Gennett returns to play second base this season.

He and Joey Votto will be pretty much it for must see baseball in Cincinnati. Now 34, the slugging first baseman compiled a line of .320/.454/.578 with 36 homers and 100 RBI in 2017. Votto led the league in OPS+ last year at 168 and did so in 2016 at 160. The Reds and Pirates should duke it out for fourth place in the division.

Cubs News & Notes

Kyle Hendricks was the lone bright spot in the Cubs rotation this weekend.

The Cubs are 27-11 versus Cincinnati over the past two seasons but both team’s enter today’s series opener with pitching staffs that are struggling.

Ian Happ, along with George Springer of the Astros, represent a new type of leadoff hitter in baseball. Gone are the days when leadoff batters were supposed to be speedy singles hitters. Now players like Happ — who had 24 homers and only eight stolen bases last year — fit the mold.

How About That!

Only 14,644 fans came out to watch Shohei Ohtani’s debut on Sunday in Anaheim. The rookie’s debut performance drew rave reviews from manager Mike Scioscia.

Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are 15-for-28 after the first series of the season. The Brewers are 3-0 on the season, something they haven’t done since 2006.

Twins pitcher Jose Berrios threw nine shutout innings and gave up three hits and a walk while striking out six batters in Sunday’s victory over the Orioles. It was the first complete game of the 23-year old’s career.

A Reds fan taunted Bryce Harper with insults, calling the right fielder overrated. Harper responded by hitting his second home run of the game. How about that!

The Giants, who will lose 90 games this year, became just the fourth team ever to score two runs in their first four games. What is even more incredible is that the Dodgers outscored the Giants 14-2 in the four-game set — and only came away with a split.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler struggled with making bullpen decisions during opening weekend. The rookie manager had no good reason for a third-inning miscommunication that forced Kapler to summon reliever Hoby Milner before he had warmed up in the bullpen.

Eight-year-old Hailey Dawson, a girl with a 3D-printed hand, threw out the first pitch Saturday in game 3 of the Padres Opening Day series against the Brewers. Hailey is currently scheduled to throw out the first pitch at 24 more parks this year, with additional teams still being scheduled.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • Not to be outdone by Funt’s mess in the Times, The Washington Post tried to tie a perfectly reasonable argument about the class division among baseball fans into the notion that netting exists to protect the wealthier fans.

This Weekend’s Three Stars

  1. Gerrit Cole – Acquired via trade from the Pirates this offseason, Cole allowed just one run with 11 strikeouts an 8-2 win over the Rangers.
  2. Christian Yelich – The new Brewer tied his career high with five hits to lead a dominating performance by the Nos. 2-3-4 hitters for Milwaukee, who swept the San Diego Padres with a 7-3 victory Saturday night.
  3. Eddie Butler – Thrown into a piggyback starter role, he worked seven innings of relief with five K’s and only one walk in Friday’s 17-inning loss to the Marlins.

They Said It

  • “It’s a pretty good indication that I need to do a better job and I will. One of the things I pride myself on is being an excellent communicator. and I will continue to strive for excellence in that regard. Miscommunications are just simply unacceptable.” – Gabe Kapler
  • “Quite frankly, we could not have hit the ball better than we did. That’s the most incredible shutout that I’ve ever seen in my life.” – Joe Maddon
  • “That was such a huge effort, especially this early in the year, when starters aren’t going that deep. What [Butler] did coming out of that bullpen tonight, it was awesome.” – Kyle Hendricks

Monday Walk Up Song

Even It Up by Heart

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