Dusty Baker announced today that Aaron Harang will be the starter for game one of the 2010 season against the Cardinals. It will be Harang's fifth straight start, matching Pete Donohue (1923-1927) and Mario Soto (1982-1986) for the longest Reds streak. Soto is the only Reds pitcher to start more than 5 Opening Day games. He also started in 1988.
Dusty Baker realizes that this isn't the choice everyone would have made. "I know it probably won't be a popular decision," Baker told Mark Sheldon. Dusty needn't worry. The people that are opposed to this move are the ones that think that pitcher wins are the exact same thing as team wins. Harang deserved a much better fate than he received last season.
As for Harang's feeling on the subject, C Trent Rosecrans relayed this story:
Harang said he went to Dusty Baker and said, "I want the ball."
You have to like that determination. Harang knows what it means to start on Opening Day in Cincinnati. He also knows that he needs to step up and be the man if this team is going to be successful. He may not be as good as he was in 2005-2006, but if he can just be a strong innings eater, the Reds could do some damage in the NL Central.
The Reds are just 1-3 in Harang's previous 4 Opening Day starts, with Harang taking the decision in all 4 games.
Baker also announced the starting rotation for the beginning of the season. Following Harang will be Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and the winner of the race for the 5th spot. I like this plan as it separates Cueto and Bailey, who both need to prove that they can gobble up innings the way that Harang and Arroyo do when they are on. Also, this means that Cueto will be starting on Opening Night (Game 2). That's great because I like to watch Johnny pitch!