The Reds open up the 2016 season shortly against the Phillies, pitting starter Raisel Iglesias against Jeremy Hellickson. Iglesias getting the start is notable not just because he is Cuban-born, but because he will be only the fifth starter since 2000 to make an Opening Day start within his first 20 games, per MLB’s Stat of the Day account on Twitter. The others: Sonny Gray (2014), Stephen Strasburg (2012), Runelvys Hernandez (2003), and John Lackey (2003).
It’s also notable because Iglesias wasn’t the Reds’ first pick to start on Opening Day. It was supposed to be Anthony DeSclafani, but he suffered a strained oblique and had to be put on the disabled list. DeSclafani is not alone. Fellow starters Homer Bailey (Tommy John surgery), John Lamb (back surgery), Michael Lorenzen (elbow), and John Lamb (back surgery) will also start the season on the DL.
This is not to discredit Iglesias. He is arguably the most talented pitcher the Reds could’ve sent out on Opening Day. The right-hander, in 16 starts and two relief appearances last year, put up a 4.15 ERA with a 104/28 K/BB ratio over 95 1/3 innings. Iglesias particularly began to catch fire in the final two months, compiling a 3.13 ERA in nine starts between the beginning of August and his final start on September 13.