There’s a lot to like about this Cincinnati Reds lineup:
35-year old Joey Votto doesn’t have the best on base percentage in baseball, but his pitch recognition and control of the strike zone makes him a logical fit for the leadoff spot (he’s done it a bunch of times already this season). He doesn’t have much speed, of course (his 25.3 feet per second is below the average of 27 feet/sec — he’s been recorded as a tenth of a second faster than Nick Hundley and slower than Matt Kemp), but he averages about 4 pitches per plate appearance, a good skill for David Bell to deploy in a night that’s all about the rookies.
Tyler Beede will make his season debut tonight, and having to face a veteran in Votto means he will have to be near-perfect right off the bat. Crafty vet versus talented rookie. Votto can work the count and get Beede antsy right off the bat, giving Reds rookie Nick Senzel a better shot in his first major league at bat.
And look at the Reds’ marketing here. Lead off with the current face of the franchise and follow him with the potential next face of the franchise and make sure that anyone who’s interested in seeing Senzel’s debut in person had better get to the park and in their seats early. Of course, besides watching batting practice and maybe trying to get an autograph, the only thing left to do in a stadium before first pitch is buy souvenirs and concessions.
Bold, American marketing strategy, this lineup.
The Giants will matchup against former A and former Yankee Sonny Gray, who, despite being 0-4 to start the year, has allowed just 1 home run all season and in his last three starts (in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, home against the Braves, and in St. Louis) has a 23:4 K:BB in 16.1 IP. A 4.96 ERA, sure, but also just a .550 OPS against.
Mike Gerber will make his Giants debut and try to tip the balance in their favor for once:
2B — Joe Panik
LF — Mike Gerber
C — Buster Posey
1B — Brandon Belt
3B — Evan Longoria
SS — Brandon Crawford
CF — Kevin Pillar
RF — Steven Duggar
SP — Tyler Beede