Much like the first Reds win of 2018, I'm a little later than I'd like to be...
Last season, the Reds went 17-39 against teams that ultimately qualified for the playoffs. Typically, when teams that aren't good square off against teams that are, I expect the team that isn't good to lose.
That was the case last year, and until I see a reason to expect otherwise, it'll be the case this year as well.
So I'm not exactly gnashing my teeth and losing my mind over the Reds' 0-3 start. A three-game Washington sweep seemed like a very reasonable possibility going into the weekend, meaning that what actually went down at GABP was little more than confirmation of our worst fears.
The problem, though, lies in the missed opportunity. The Reds got a fantastic start from Homer Bailey on Opening Day, then got a decent six-inning outing from Sal Romano yesterday. The hope is that this season, the Reds will have better starting pitching, but there's still a distinct possibility that quality starts will be in short supply.
Which means that for the Reds to improve substantially, they're going to have to win when their starters actually do pitch well.
If that doesn't happen, then not only will 2018's record look painfully familiar, but the whispers about what might happen with Bryan Price will turn into a conversation that dominates the spring and summer.
Here's some stuff...
Jacob Evans is going pro. He's not hiring an agent, yet, but he's entering the draft with the full intention of not returning to the University of Cincinnati next season.
I'll be rooting for Jacob, a guy who did a little of everything at UC, and whose junior season was overshadowed a lot by the many accolades Gary Clark earned.
Mick Cronin already faced the tall task of trying to replace Clark and Kyle Washington. Now he has to move forward without a player who played different positions and was often indispensable on both ends. The Bearcats were going to have to figure out how to win without proven, polished bigs. Now, they'll need to find a way without their most versatile player.
Clearly, they have assets that any head coach would love to start a rebuild of sorts with, but as much as next year's UC team will have a different look and feel, there's a feeling at the outset of the offseason that the window for a deep run in March is going to have to be pried open by the players who remain.
Xavier plays it safe. I wrote about Travis Steele getting the XU job last week. My thoughts remain the same as they were the day Chris Mack left. Read them here.
The real fun in watching Villanova toy with opponents doesn't just lie with how the Wildcats shoot, it's the way they create open looks. They're careful with the ball, and they're an exceptional passing team, constantly passing up good looks for better ones, always finding the most open man possible, and while they have shooters who can step back way beyond the three point arc, they don't really take many bad shots. I think Michigan gives them a game (+7.5 is tempting), but Villanova was the best team I watched all season, they're the best team I've watched in the NCAA Tournament, and as a favorite tonight, I don't know how anyone could pick against them to win another national title tonight.
Here's some other stuff....
The Reds have a new bullpen. And by "a new bullpen," we mean they actually have a new bullpen.
I don't believe that Princeton's Darius Bazley will start a new trend in high school players jumping to the G-League, but this is a good look at what his big move might mean for both pro and college ball.
This is a pretty good look at what Michigan can do to slow down Villanova.
Peter King's Monday MMQB columns is always solid, but this week's is particularly chock full of useful stuff.
It was me and a few hundred people at GABP yesterday, but I got to check out the new Bowtie Bar for the first time this season. Consider me a fan.
Paul Dehner Jr, Tony Pike, and Rocky Boiman provide football analysis. Brad Redford reacts to Travis Steele getting the gig at XU. Fun show planned for 3:05 on ESPN1530.