Apr 1, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) follows through during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Three Strikes: The Morning After

Few things I took away from 1/162.

Jay Bruce continues to struggle in the clutch. Click the link if you really want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. He came to the plate six times yesterday, each with a chance to either tie the game or take the lead. He responded with four strike outs. It’s hardly worth blogging about, but his clutch numbers are abysmal and the Reds hurt when Jay doesn’t perform.

Ryan Ludwick went down with a separated shoulder. It’s a pretty big loss for a Reds team whose biggest weakness is its offense. If I’m Baker, I hand the job to Xavier Paul, bat him second and move Brandon Phillips to the four spot. Career BA over .280 batting fourth and that’s encompassing over 2,000 at-bats. We don’t know enough about Paul to be entirely confident, but we do know he hit over .300 in 96 plate appearances last year and had an OBP of .379.

JJ Hoover is a certified bulldog. I hope you aren’t polluting the water-cooler today trashing this kid. He hadn’t pitched that long all spring and all he did was go right after one of the best lineups in baseball. He went two innings and only surrendered two hits, but it was the two walks that ultimately caught up with him. We don’t make excuses here at BRM, but JJ was getting squeezed harder than a stress ball on Wall Street. He will be one of the best pitchers this bullpen has to offer by the time this season ends. Excellent control and a stubborn lack of fear – he wasn’t intimidated in the least. You want that behind the gate for situations that require stoic heroics.

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Tags: Angels Cincinnati Reds Dusty Baker Opening Day

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