So what do we really know about the Reds after the first week?
Not much, really. But there were a few early trends.
The Reds steamrolled the Pirates three straight, then dropped two of three to their nemesis the Cardinals to stand 4-2 after Week 1.
Joey Votto appears finally healthy after a left quad strain knocked him out of 62 games last year. He didn’t play after July 5 and was limited to being a .255 hitter with six home runs.
This year he’s driving the ball again and is hitting .333 with three home runs and eight RBI.
Third baseman Todd Frazier is the heart and soul of this team. He’s hitting .292 with three home runs and eight RBI.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton, who was 56 of 78 on stolen bases last year, is learning when to run. Now in his second year, he’s decoding the pitchers and also running more when when the pitcher is ahead in the count and apt to flip in a breaking ball. Hamilton is batting .250 and leads the majors with seven stolen bases.
No surprise, Johnny Cueto has been very good. He’s 0-1 with a 0.64 ERA. In 14 innings, he’s given up one earned run on eight hits. He has 14 strikeouts.
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who came to the Reds from the Marlins for Mat Latos, pitched six strong innings in his debut. He’s 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA, with six strikeouts. In his first start for the Reds, he displayed a 91-to-93 mph fastball with a nose-diving slider.
Raisel Iglesias made his major league debut on Sunday and gave up three runs over five innings. He threw four shutout innings before he appeared to tire in the fifth. He was primarily a reliever for the Cuban National team. The Reds are hoping because he can throw four pitches for strikes it translates over to being a quality starter.
Even veteran Jason Marquis (0-0, 4.50) was effective, especially since he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and didn’t pitch in the majors last year. He gave up three runs over six innings.
The starters compiled an impressive 2.95 ERA, which ranks fourth in the league.
While Hamilton, Votto and Frazier were impressive, the rest of the lineup contributed about as much as Reds announcer Jim Day standing in the photo well next to the dugout.
Brandon Phillips (.174) and Jay Bruce (.200, 2 home runs) are off to slow starts. Devin Mesoraco and Marlon Byrd looked like they were swinging in quicksand, as both started 2 for 21 (.095).
Zack Cozart is hitting .250, which is about where he should be.
Not much is happening in the order after the top three hitters. The Reds are batting .212, which ranks 12th in the league.
The bullpen, which ranked 14th last year with a 4.11 ERA, has hopped back on its 2014 roller coaster. The pen has an ERA of 4.22, which ranks 13th.
Kevin Gregg (15.00 ERA) has been whacked around like a pinata, giving up five earned runs in three innings.
Keys to the year
The year will swing on the success of the rotation after Cueto and Mike Leake. DeSclafani has a total of six major league starts and Iglesias has only one. Homer Bailey is expected back this weekend, but no one knows what to expect of him coming off surgery for a torn tendon in his forearm on Sept. 6.
The bullpen, outside of closer Aroldis Chapman, has been a daily enigma. Gregg, Badenhop (6.75), Jumbo Diaz (5.40), J.J. Hoover (0.00), Manny Parra (0.00) and Tony Cingrani (3.00) need to provide stability.
And someone has to hit besides Votto and Frazier.
All things considered, the Reds should feel good about being 4-2.