3 biggest overreactions from the Reds Opening Day loss to the Pirates

Players stand for the National Anthem as F-16s fly over the field for the 104th Cincinnati Reds Opening Day
Players stand for the National Anthem as F-16s fly over the field for the 104th Cincinnati Reds Opening Day / Phil Didion/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Cincinnati Reds 2023 season is finally underway. Expectations were not high coming into the season following a 100-loss campaign a year ago, but Reds GM Nick Krall has put together a scrappy group of talented player who have their sights set on proving the doubters wrong this season.

The season did not get off to the best of starts. Reds Opening Day starter Hunter Greene made it through just 3.1 innings of work and Cincinnati's ninth inning rally came up just short as they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a final score of 5-4.

There was good and bad, but more than anything, there was overreactions. Opening Day has a way of bringing extremely harsh or even optimistic thoughts to the forefront. Let's look at the three biggest overreactions from Reds Opening Day.

1. Overreactions from Reds Opening Day loss: Hunter Greene gives up too many home runs.

Hunter Greene was dealing to begin the game, wasn't he? The second-overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft was throwing straight gas. Greene even touched 105-mph on the radar gun at one point, though Statcast didn't record it as such. According to Baseball Savant, Greene' fastest pitch was 102.1-mph.

But a 100-plus mph fastball isn't fast enough to get past Oneil Cruz. The Pittsburgh Pirates shorstop turned on a 3-2 pitch and launched it into the Sun Deck at Great American Ball Park to knot the game at one run apiece. After seeing Greene surrender 24 gopher balls a year ago, it would be easy just shrug your shoulders and say, "Here we go again."

But that at-bat was clouded by a pitch clock violation after Greene had gotten ahead 0-2. Cruz worked his way back into the at-bat and a questionable ball made the count full. Cruz then jumped on the next pitch and blasted it into the seats.

Hunter Greene appeared to be off his game after the pitch clock violation, and it cost him. Obviously, after allowing so many home runs just a year ago, fans are a bit apprehensive when it comes to Greene and the long ball. But in Greene's final four games of 2022, the right-hander allowed just one home run. That's hope this is just an outlier.

2. Overreactions from Reds Opening Day loss: David Bell pulled Hunter Greene too early.

It's been a common theme among the Cincinnati Reds fanbase that manager David Bell goes to his bullpen way too often and does not allow his starting pitchers to work through tough innings.

There is certainly some merit to that argument, but Bell was completely in the right when he removed Hunter Greene from the game without getting out of the fourth inning. Now, it didn't work, and Fernando Cruz walked in two runs, but Bell made the correct decision lifting Greene from the game.

First, Greene had thrown 32 pitches in the previous inning. After striking out Jack Suwinski, Greene allowed a double to Ji Hawn Bae. The Pirates infielder swiped third base, but it was that seven-pitch walk to Pirates catcher Austin Hedges that forced Bell's hand. Granted, ball four could have easily been called strike three.

With Oneil Cruz, who'd just taken Greene deep in the previous inning, up to bat, Bell made the decision to go to the bullpen. Cruz entered and looked horrific. The right-hander couldn't even get out of the inning and was replaced by Alex Young after allowing one earned run and walking three batters.

The easiest thing in the world to do is second guess the manager's decision after things go awry. That kind of stuff happens. It's baseball. But don't be so quick to jump on the "fire David Bell" bandwagon.

Had Greene taken care of business against Hedges, Bell said (via MLB.com) that he'd have allowed his ace to face Cruz once again. But at 83 pitches in the first game of the year, there was no need to leave Greene out there. Now, if the same scenario occurs in June after the starters are stretched out, then we can have this conversation once again.

3. Overreactions from Reds Opening Day loss: Will Benson and Jose Barrero need to be sent to Triple-A.

It was not a good day at the plate for Cincinnati Reds newcomer Will Benson. The outfielder got the ole Golden Sombero after striking out four times and leaving five runners on base. Jose Barrero, who is under the microscope this season, did not look great either. Barrero went down on strikes twice and had two balls that didn't leave the infield.

Neither players looked great at the plate, I'll grant you that. But that's why they're hitting eighth and ninth in the batting order. Everyone knew coming into the this season that Barrero may struggle early. That's the entire reason that Kevin Newman was brought in during the offseason.

In fact, with left-hander Rich Hill slated to the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, don't be shocked to see Newman at shortstop and Barrero on the outfield grass. David Bell may, in fact, give the left-handed hitting Benson a day off on Saturday.

Honestly, the more troubling statistic may have been TJ Friedl's three strikeouts. Jonathan India reached base three times, but Friedl, batting second, was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Will Benson and Jose Barrero are going to be given opportunities early. The Cincinnati Reds have invested too much into both players to option them back to Triple-A so soon. But if either one is still struggling mightily come early-June, then we may be having a deeper conversation.

Next. 4 biggest X-factors heading into the Reds 2023 season. dark