The first weekend of the MLB season continues Saturday with an interleague matchup between the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds. At home, the Reds will be heavy favorites to beat the Tigers, who they topped 7-1 in the opener on Friday.
Of course, Detroit is coming off a disastrous season in 2019. The Tigers won only 47 games last year, making them the worst team in baseball, and they didn’t look much better on Friday.
The good news is that there’s nowhere to go but up this season. However, the Tigers only made modest roster additions over the winter and will rely on their young players to help the team take a step forward.
Meanwhile, the Reds are poised to be one of the breakout teams of 2020. They were aggressive this winter and even made trades last summer that were geared toward helping them in 2020. After finishing a distant fourth in the NL Central last year, the Reds are being looked at as potential contenders this season.
The Reds will send budding ace Luis Castillo to the mound on Saturday. He made 32 starts for the Reds last season, going 15-8 with a 3.40 ERA.
He’s being looked at as one of the biggest reasons why Cincinnati’s rotation could be among the best in the National League this season. Castillo could also be a Cy Young candidate if he can continue to build off what he did last season.
Castillo will face a Detroit lineup that’s indicative of a rebuilding team. The Tigers made free-agent additions like C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop this offseason to give their lineup a little more pop and put some proven hitters around Miguel Cabrera.
However, most of Detroit’s lineup is made up of young hitters who are still trying to prove they can be everyday players in the majors. The likes of JaCoby Jones, Christin Stewart, and Jeimer Candelario are looking to prove themselves, although they haven’t faced Castillo and his elite stuff in their careers.
Ivan the Terrible
Veteran Ivan Nova will start for the Tigers on the second day of the season. He stayed in the AL Central this winter after making 34 starts for the White Sox last year.
In those 34 starts, he was 11-12 with a 4.72 ERA. Nova also pitched two complete games, so he continues to be a reliable inning eater despite not necessarily pitching at an elite level. Most starts, he needs a healthy amount of run support to get a win.
Nova will be facing a revamped Cincinnati lineup, which includes many hitters who have had success against the righty in the past. While Nova has held Joey Votto to a .233 average in his career, Eugenio Suarez is 9 for 27 with five extra-base hits in his career against Nova.
Meanwhile, former Detroit outfielder Nick Castellanos is 6 for 17 against Nova with three extra-base hits. With Votto, Suarez, Castellanos, and Mike Moustakas, the Reds have a formidable middle of the order that Nova will have to traverse.
Big Red Machine
Even with the Reds heavily favored, they are still the smart bet in this game. Nova’s struggles against several of Cincinnati’s hitters makes it unlikely that he can out-pitch Castillo, giving the Reds a considerable advantage in this game.
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