How will David Bell fill out the Reds line-up card on Opening Day?
The opening day is just around the corner. In a little over a week, the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals will be relegated to the Great American Ball Park, and for the first time since Marty Brennaman retired in 2019, fans will be in the stands cheering on their hometown Redlegs. But how is Red’s skipper David Bell going to fill out his deployment card on April 1st when the Redbirds come to town?
The Reds know the ace of the Cardinals, Jack Flaherty, will play the rubber on opening day. Last season was unfriendly for the right-hander, who went 4-3 with 4.91 ERA and posted a -0.3 WAR. Cincinnati is hoping to see a similar version of Flaherty in 2021, but I wouldn’t expect it.
The 2020 season has been an anomaly for several great players, and Flaherty is one I would expect to bounce back. Prior to last season’s dismal effort, Flaherty was 19-19 with a 3.20 ERA and 433 strokes over 368.2 innings. St. Louis hopes Flaherty will return to that dominance in 2021.
Regardless of how well or how badly Flaherty does on opening day, you can bet your lower dollar that Bell will play the percentages on April 1st and will play with a heavy left-handed lineup. The Reds didn’t face Flaherty in 2020, but in 2019 the team hit a collective .213 from the right-hander, with Anthony Desclafani and Sonny Gray making up two of the Reds’ 13 goals.
Only Eugenio Suarez, Mike Moustakas and Jesse Winker have taken Flaherty deep in his career, and former MVP Joey Votto is 5v10 against Flaherty. What will Bell’s Opening Day look like against Jack Flaherty and the St. Louis Cardinals?