It’s been pretty well exclaimed that the Cincinnati Reds have a ‘Big Three’ in their starting rotation, all of whom got starts in the series victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend.
Well, the Cincinnati Reds have a baseball game again today, and none of said ‘Big Three’ is slated to start. Somehow, some way, they’re going to have to figure out how to pick up some momentum in games started by someone other than Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, or Graham Ashcraft to go anywhere this year, and the first man up in that role will be Connor Overton.
You’re likely aware of Overton’s story at this point. The soon-to-be 30 year old was a 15th round pick out of Old Dominion by the Miami Marlins, and he scuffled through the systems of the Marlins, Nationals, Giants, Blue Jays, and Pirates before landing with Cincinnati last season. In a whirlwind, he pitched to a tidy 2.73 ERA (3.66 FIP) in 33.0 excellent IP for the Reds last year out of nowhere before a back injury ultimately threw him on the shelf. His return to camp in Goodyear this spring was ugly, but with injuries decimating the other already limited options for the starting rotation, he’s getting a shot right away to show he can replicate last year’s success.
That’s what we’ll be watching for tonight as the Reds play host to the Chicago Cubs, who’ll have veteran lefty starter Drew Smyly on the bump in the series opener. That prompted David Bell to use a righty-heavy starting lineup, one reflected by Jose Barrero getting a start in CF.
First pitch is set for 6:40 PM ET, and beware of how many blue jerseys will have infiltrated the stands of GABP. Also of note: old friend Tucker Barnhart is in the lineup at catcher for the Cubs, so you’ll get that bit of nostalgia as Ian Happ hits 7 HR on the night.