By Matthew McAdow
How about those Reds?
While weather has caused two cancellations early on in the season, I have been more than pleased with the small sample size from the Reds through 5 games. As I am writing this, Cincinnati has played 5 games and they currently sit at 3-2 before heading to Philadelphia for the first of 20 straight days with a game. Over the next few weeks, the Reds will take on the Phillies, Braves, Phillies again, Rays, and Pirates. While every game is important, it’ll be crucial for the Reds to continue to bat well over the next couple weeks if they want to continue playing .500 type baseball.
Of course, there is room for improvement and some players are struggling, but for the most part, this team has come together and is playing with a chip on their shoulder. One of my favorite things early on in the year is the implementation of the Viking costume after a big homerun. The excitement and smiles from success at the plate is great to watch and I have enjoyed this new tradition early into the season.
• The Reds currently have a winning record and have not lost a series to begin the year. Let’s keep this thing rolling one series at a time.
• Jason Vosler has been the best surprise of the season. In Votto’s absence, Vosler leads the team in homeruns (3) and RBIs (7).
• Jonathan India is back to playing like he did during his rookie of the year campaign. He leads the team in batting average (.389) and on-base percentage (.500). Being a leader of a team this early in a career is quite impressive.
• Tyler Stephenson is really seeing the ball well. He has been a hitting machine and has racked up 7 hits already to begin the year.
• The versatility of TJ Friedl has been very impressive. He has the speed to lay down bunts and the power to sky one to right field. He is batting .353 to begin the year and his speed on the bases will play a big factor into the success of the front of the lineup.
• Kevin Newman has really impressed me in the field. He has shown off some amazing footwork and glovework, despite lacking early on with his bat.
• The bullpen has played decent despite their last game against the Cubs. With many players absent from the pen (Santillan, Sims, Antone, Gutierrez), it is important that they perform well enough to keep Cincinnati in close ball games.
• Alexis Diaz, our closer, has been phenomenal early on. It is great to see the Reds commit to a closer, and I am big on letting pitchers know their roles throughout the season. Through 2 innings, he has 1 save and has yet to give up a hit.
• Graham Ashcraft was phenomenal in his first start to begin the year; 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 earned run, and 6 strikeouts. His fast pace and ability to pitch to soft contact is a true art.
• Will Benson is really struggling at the plate. We all know he is capable of performing at the big league level, but he has yet to record a hit through 12 at-bats. He doesn’t look comfortable at the plate and with Nick Senzel getting healthy, Benson is on a short string. I hope to see him turn it around this weekend.
• Jose Barrero is having another cold start to the season and looks to turn things around against the Phillies. He is batting .125 to begin the season and was beginning to chase pitches again. I am more than rooting for Jose to get back to seeing the ball and solidifying himself on this roster.
• Wil Myers is struggling early on, but I more than expect him to improve his numbers this week. He is batting .188, but he was seeing the ball much better against the Cubs in the last series. I think all Reds fans will grow to like Myers a lot this summer
I love knowing the Reds have a plan and watching Cincinnati this season, along with staying up to date on our young prospects, has been a blast. This team is headed in the right direction, and I have a ton of trust in the process that Cincinnati is taking. Building within and developing within is the best way to keep talent flowing through for a long period of time. The Reds are absolutely loaded with talent from the bottom up, and the next few years of Reds baseball are going to be quite enjoyable. I have already seen some De La Cruz and Encarnacion-Strand jerseys floating around Great American Ball Park, and I can’t wait for their call-up in the near future.
Connor Overton joins Matt’s Take
Reds pitcher, Connor Overton, kindly joined Matt’s Take this week for a Q&A. Connor is 29 years young and is still early-on in his major league career. Connor made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays in 2021 and spent some time in the Pirates organization. In college, Overton played for Old Dominion where he quickly became a fan-favorite. In his first start of the 2023 campaign, he went four innings and threw roughly 80 pitches. Connor is establishing himself in this Reds rotation. and I am more than excited to see him grow this season.
Q: How did it feel making your first start of the 2023 season?
A: “It felt good to finally get going. I wish I could get a few pitches back, but definitely something to build off going forward. I feel really confident about what’s to come.”
Q: The Reds have started the season with a 3-1 record. What does everyone need to do in order to have continued success?
A: “We’re a bunch of dogs man. Straight grinders. We are constantly picking each other up, and if we can keep that energy and continue to play for the guy next to you, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Q: What is your favorite pitch to throw?
A: “My favorite pitch to throw is my changeup. I have a lot of feel with that pitch and it’s performed really well over the past few years. It’s a pitch I can easily manipulate to both right handed and left handed hitters.”
Q: What is your goal for the 2023 season?
A: “My goal for the 2023 season is to remain healthy the entire season and to constantly improve on each start so I can be a consistent, dependable, and efficient guy for us going deep into each game.”
Q: What is it like working with Derek Johnson on a daily basis?
A: “DJ is the man. A pitching genius. His ability to communicate to each person is huge. He takes the time to understand each person and what makes them tick and how they go about things in order for him to be able to communicate his thoughts effectively. He’s really helped me with the game planning and attacking hitters side of things recently. It’s been great being able to work with him and I am looking forward to continuing to do so.”
Q: What does your pre-game routine look like on a day that you take the mound?
A: “My pre game routine isn’t anything too crazy. Just hot and cold tub 2 hours before the game. Then hour 1/2 before, I start activating. 30 minutes before, I start playing catch. Just eat a large pizza the night before the start (Lol).”