Reds open with high hopes vs. rebuilding Tigers

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Eyeing their first postseason appearance in seven years, the Cincinnati Reds are eager to start this unprecedented 2020 campaign. For the Detroit Tigers, meanwhile, the rebuild continues.

With no fans in the stands, the Tigers and Reds open this 60-game season on Friday night at Cincinnati.

While the 2020 Major League Baseball season will look nothing like what fans are used to due to the coronavirus pandemic, the games will be played. For now.

For the Reds, there is plenty of excitement surrounding a franchise that feels it’s improved enough to seriously challenge for an National League Central title and reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. The additions of ex-Detroit slugger Nick Castellanos (three straight seasons with at least 23 home runs) and fellow veteran Mike Moustakas (career-high 35 homers in 2019), plus a pitching staff with plenty of upside could be grounds for success during this sprint of a season.

Cincinnati’s 75 wins in 2019 were its most in five seasons. The Reds’ 4.18 team ERA ranked fourth in the NL, and their .235 opponents’ batting average was second in the league last season.

“We’ve got a really good lineup,” third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who has recorded 83 home runs and 207 RBIs in the last two seasons, told the Reds’ official website. “We’ve got really good people around. We’ve got a good pitching (pitching) staff. When you have all those things on your team, I feel like we’ve got a really good team, and we can do whatever we want with this team.”

Right-hander Sonny Gray is slated to take the ball on Friday for Cincinnati after going 11-8 with a strong 2.87 ERA in 31 starts in 2019, his first season with the club. Perhaps most impressive, Gray posted a 1.78 ERA while going 5-2 over his last 10 starts.

The long-time AL hurler is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in five appearances (four starts) against the Tigers, last facing them in 2018 with four relief innings.

Coming off last season’s dismal 47-114 season, Detroit is still in full-on rebuilding mode. According to the Tigers’ official website, nine of the 16 pitchers will be on an Opening Day roster for the first time. However, there is some veteran talent in the lineup.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys that are just a bunch of junkyard dogs, and we’re excited to go,” scheduled Opening Day starter Matthew Boyd told the Tigers’ official website. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re hungry.”

Miguel Cabrera, an 11-time All-Star and two-time MVP, begins his 18th season. Though Cabrera is a career .315 hitter and has clubbed 477 home runs, he hit just 12 with 59 RBIs in 136 games last season. He is 4-for-10 with a homer against Gray.

The Tigers also hope for more from 27-year-old third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who hit just .203 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 94 games in 2019.

Detroit, which ranked near the bottom of the majors with a 5.24 ERA and 250 homers allowed in 2019, turns to Boyd in the opener. The left-hander went 9-12 with a 4.56 ERA in 32 starts last season. He’s 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against Cincinnati — both from 2018.

Moustakas is a career .381 hitter (8-for-21) with a homer and three doubles versus Boyd.

–Field Level Media

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