The Phillies considered Aaron Nola as a potential Opening Day starter, but they opted to pitch him Wednesday night against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Having arguably their best starter pitch the second game of the season allows the Phillies to pitch him in next Monday's home opener against the Padres. But make no mistake: the Phillies are high on Nola, who was their first-round pick in the 2014 Draft.
Nola went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts last season as a rookie, giving the rebuilding Phillies some hope for the future. Wednesday's start will be Nola's first against the Reds.
Cincinnati will start left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who started four games late last season after being acquired in the trade that sent Johnny Cueto to Kansas City. Finnegan, who struggled his last few starts in Spring Training, went 2-2 with a 4.71 ERA in those four starts -- all on the road. This will be the first home start at Great American Ball Park for Finnegan, who made two relief appearances there last year. He has never faced the Phillies.
Things to know about this game:
• The Phillies have five rookies on the 25-man roster: outfielder Tyler Goeddel, right-hander Dalier Hinojosa, outfielder Cedric Hunter, left-hander Daniel Stumpf and right-hander Vince Velasquez. The five rookies are tied with the Brewers, Dodgers, Padres and Rockies for the most on any roster in the National League. Only the Orioles have more with six.
• Expect Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton to bat ninth behind the pitcher until he earns his way back to the top of order with a better on-base percentage. Reds manager Bryan Price likes Hamilton batting ninth rather than eighth, because if he is caught stealing with two outs, the pitcher will not lead off the following inning.
• Expect Cameron Rupp to catch for the Phillies on Wednesday. He will receive the bulk of playing time this season, but Carlos Ruiz started Opening Day because he is a veteran, and this is expected to be his final season with the team.