The 2020 Cincinnati Reds kick off their season with an interleague battle against the Detroit Tigers. Although both teams finished below .500 in 2019, the two squads are squarely on different trajectories. On one hand, Cincinnati looks to challenge for a playoff bid and the NL Central crown. On the other, the Tigers look to avoid finishing at the very bottom of the league once again.
DET: SP Jordan Zimmermann; SP Tarik Skubal; INF Sergio Alcantara; INF Isaac Paredes; OF Daz Cameron; SP Alex Faedo; SP Daniel Norris CIN: NA
Better Luck This Year?
In 2019, Matt Boyd’s ERA largely matched his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) 4.56 vs 4.32, suggesting he was only moderately unlucky. However, his SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) was a much better 3.61. With a better-than-average walk and strikeout rates, Boyd may be much closer to a breakout than many expect.
Time to Rake?
After an unproductive offensive year–12th out of 15 NL teams–the Reds added some new faces to their lineup. Leading off, Japanese import Shogo Akiyama will look to set the table. Towards the middle of the lineup, recently-signed sluggers Nick Castellanos (121 wRC+ in 2019) and Mike Moustakas (113) will drive in the runs.
Matt Boyd may beat expectations in 2020, but his teammates likely won’t follow suit. Last year, their offense was the worst in the league–and they just lost Castellanos, their best hitter! While not dead last, their bullpen was a depressingly-low 26th in MLB. Cincy isn’t a powerhouse, but they have more than enough talent to take down their lowly visitors.
At first glance, the OVER may seem like the smart play–especially when picking CIN to cover. After all, we have warm weather and a homer-happy ballpark. While these forces to make it easier to score, the Tigers remain in an unexciting position. Primarily, Sonny Gray’s groundball-generating abilities work directly against them. After all, you can’t hit a homer if you hit it on the ground! In this sense, the favorable dimensions don’t help Detroit’s cause in the slightest. Secondly, after such an odd restart to Spring Training, hitters may still be behind their pitching counterparts. Look for Cincy to win by multiple runs while keeping the score low.
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