Opening Day: Reds vs. Marlins (4:05 EDT). Cueto vs. Buerhle.

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Miami Marlins
@ Cincinnati Reds

Thursday, Apr 5, 2012, 4:05 PM EDT
Great American Ball Park

Mark Buehrle vs Johnny Cueto

Coverage

TV: ESPN2, FSO-HD, FSFL-HD; RADIO: WLW, WAXY, WAQI;

WEB: ESPN3.com (subject to blackout), MLB.tv, Gameday Audio, Gameday


Chance of showers. Game time temperature around 60.

Complete Coverage >


There's a lot of novelty to go along with the time-worn tradition of Opening Day. This year, to name a few things: new Opening Day starter, newly aggressive organizational strategy, new-look Marlins (probably the definition of novelty). Most importantly, new season.

A new year. A fresh clean start.

It's pointless to try and manage expectations in April. That defeats the purpose and kills the whole buzz of Spring's march to Opening Day. This team and its management is hungry to prove that 2010 was not a tease. That doesn't mean anything they did this offseason or will do this season will amount to a playoff team. But it shouldn't hurt.

Everything says Johnny Cueto should be at least a run worse in ERA last year. That's what his peripheral stats scream, anyway. Still, I'm encouraged most of all by Cueto's constant evolution as a pitcher. He exploded onto the scene in his first major league start, so it's easy to think some of his early struggles were a setback. That misses the through-line of his nearly-constant progress in his four years as a major league starter. Almost statistic you pick out - ERA+, H/9, BB/9 - has trended in the right direction every year.

His K/9 has dropped every season too, which feeds into his unfavorably peripherals. But maybe this is Cueto 2.0. A different, but more effective, groundball pitcher. He'll face a pitcher in Mark Buehrle who's made a very good living at 5 strikeouts per nine innings or less and "should be" worse than he is.

Following baseball, at least as any kind of partisan fan, causes you to trust some numbers and block out others. These 162 games will decide which ones were your true friends.

Lineups after the jump.

Go Reds!

Cueto Stats (2011) Buehrle
2.31/169
ERA/ERA+ 3.59/117
1.09 WHIP 1.30
3.45 FIP 3.98
3.90 xFIP 4.14
3.93 SIERA 4.38
156 IP 205.1

Lineups

Reds marlins
Brandon Phillips
Jose Reyes SS
Zack Cozart
Emilio Bonifacio CF
Joey Votto
Hanley Ramirez 3B
Scott Rolen
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Jay Bruce
Gaby Sanchez 1B
Ryan Ludwick
Chris Coghlan LF
Drew Stubbs
Omar Infante 2B
Ryan Hanigan John Buck C
Johnny Cueto Mark Buehrle P
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