Previewing the pitching matchup: Reds vs. Braves
Tyler Mahle (13-6 3.75 ERA in 2021) kicks off the season on the hill for the Cincinnati Reds as the Atlanta Braves will counter with Max Fried (14-7 3.04 ERA in 2021). The Cincinnati right-hander is seeking his first career victory against Atlanta.
Winless in his previous three starts versus the Braves, Mahle was taken deep twice in last year's 4-0 shutout defeat at Great American Ball Park on June 27th. However, in his career, the California native has fanned 23 Atlanta hitters in just 17 frames.
Southpaw Max Fried has quickly established himself as one of the top hurlers in the senior circuit. Over the last three years, he's compiled an amazing 38-13 record while collecting a second-place finish in the 2020 National League Cy Young Award voting. Additionally, the 28-year-old has added a pair of Gold Gloves to his mantelpiece over the last two seasons.
Friday night's pitching matchup will be a study in contrasts as rookie left-hander Reiver Sanmartin (2-0 1.54 ERA in 2021) toes the rubber for the Redlegs, while 14-year veteran Charlie Morton (14-6 3.34 ERA in 2021) gets the call for Brian Snitker's club.
Sanmartin made his MLB debut during the final week of the 2021 season making two successful starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The defending World Series champs should be more of challenge for the 25-year-old Colombian.
Right-hander Charlie Morton is coming off a terrific 2021 campaign in which he made 33 starts leading the NL. The two-time All-Star is 6-8 versus the Redlegs in 18 career appearances. However, the 38-year-old has not pitched against the Reds since 2016 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Even though he's only entering his sophomore season in the big leagues, Vladimir Gutierrez (9-6 4.74 ERA in 2021) is a veteran when you consider there are three rookies in the Cincinnati rotation to start the season. He'll oppose Kyle Wright (0-1 9.95 ERA in 2021) at Truist Park on Saturday evening.
Gutierrez made 22 starts following his debut versus the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 28th. Needless to say, if the Cincinnati Reds are to be successful this season, a strong campaign from the right-handed Cuban is imperative.
It's been tough going for former first-round pick Kyle Wright. Granted, it's a small sample size, but the right-hander has been underwhelming in 21 career appearances, including 14 starts, compiling a 6.56 ERA in 70 frames.
Sunday afternoon is the day Reds Country has been waiting for since June 12, 2017. That's the day Cincinnati selected a pitching phenom with the second overall selection in the draft. Get your popcorn ready Reds fans, Hunter Greene is making his MLB debut. As excited as we are, let's try to temper our expectations whether the results are positive or negative.
Keep in mind, Hunter Greene is still just 22-years-old, and surrendered four homers in only nine innings in four spring training outings. However, you can't help but be excited and hopefully, Greene will make a positive first impression versus an incredibly imposing lineup.
Atlanta is not doing Greene any favors when it comes to the pitching matchup on Sunday. The Braves will send Ian Anderson (9-5 3.58 ERA in 2021) to the pitching rubber. If you remember, or perhaps care not to, Anderson bewildered the Reds in the 2020 postseason allowing two hits, while fanning nine in six innings of work. To quote 1980s synth-pop star Howard Jones, "things can only get better."