Cincinnati Reds: Who will be the Opening Day starter post-trade?

After adding three new starting pitchers to the Cincinnati Reds rotation, we are left with a big question; who will take the mound on Opening Day 2019?

Fans have been talking about the Cincinnati Reds pitching, particularly the starting rotation, seemingly forever, waiting for the front office to do something about it. Well this off season they finally did. After adding three new starters to their rotation via trades, we are left with a big question; who will take the mound on Opening Day 2019?

It feels very far away for baseball fans after this long offseason. But in reality, March 28th is just around the corner. After big moves from the front office these last two months. With the additions of Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, and now Sonny Gray the Reds have a pretty solid starting rotation to consider for the 2019 season.

When thinking about who David Bell will hand the ball to on Opening Day, it probably seems like a no-brainer; but if this offseason has been any indication, anything is possible. I see three possible pitchers who could roll out on Opening Day.

The first, and probably least likely of the three, is Luis Castillo. While he didn’t post the best numbers last season, he managed to finish 10-12 with a 4.30 ERA and 165 strikeouts. Many of those strikeouts came as a result of his absolutely lethal changeup, which has no doubt improved since the season ended. All of which helped Castillo prove himself to be a formidable pitcher.

Castillo is also one of the only two starting pitchers from 2018 who is expected to retain his spot in 2019. He is expected to make big improvements under the new coaching staff. Luis Castillo might not be the most obvious choice, but I think he would be the most interesting choice.

The next pitcher who I think is definitely in the running for Opening Day starter is Alex Wood. He was not the main piece in Cincinnati’s trade with the Dodgers, but Wood is definitely a welcome addition to the Reds starting rotation.  He posted a 3.68 ERA with 135 strikeouts last season.

Alex Wood went 9-7, pitching just over 151 innings with only 14 home runs allowed in 2018. Wood was a middle-to-bottom of the rotation guy in LA, but will likely be at the top of the rotation in Cincinnati given the state of the Reds rotation. He was the obvious choice for the Opening Day starter before the Reds made their most recent move.

Which brings us to the most likely pitcher, in my opinion, to get the start on Opening Day. This is, of course, the newest member of the Cincinnati Reds, Sonny Gray. It’s no secret that Gray was not the right fit for the New York Yankees. Even so, the former Cy Young candidate went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA.

His ERA is not any better than several of the younger pitchers who were already on the Reds roster, but his win/ loss record is solid and I think we can expect to see some good things from him. Gray’s performances away from the Bronx were staggeringly different from his starts in Yankee Stadium. Gray’s ERA on the road last season was 3.17, but at home his ERA was 6.98, more than double that of his ERA away from home.

Like I said, at this point it seems like nearly anything could happen. The Cincinnati Reds have been full of surprises this offseason and Spring Training is right around the corner. I think a lot of fans will be surprised to see how some of the young pitching staff will improve under new pitching coach Derek Johnson.

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What happens during Spring Training will determine a lot.  However, all things considered, with what the Reds went through to get him to Cincinnati, I would be very surprised if Sonny Gray isn’t on the mound for Opening Day on March 28th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. One way or another, we are looking at a very different Cincinnati Reds team this coming year.

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