Harang for Opening Day

The Reds Opening Day starter on April 5 vs. the Cardinals will be ….

Aaron Harang.

“I know it probably won’t be a popular decision,” manager Dusty Baker said.

In past years, it would be a slam dunk. But there was a lot of back and forth and debate.

The decision was made after consulting with pitching coach Bryan Price and Bronson Arroyo and Harang.

“Me and Bryan sat down and talked and we wrestled with it big time,” Baker said. “I talked to Arroyo and Harang. Some of the mannerisms and things I came away with is that Harang is No. 1 for what we need, confidence wise. He’s throwing the ball great.”

Ultimately, the decision came dow to Arroyo not wanting the assignment and Harang did.

“I said if it’s out there, I want the ball. I want to be your guy,” Harang said he told Baker. “[Bronson and I] both talked about it before we even went in there. I wasn’t over there trying to make him feel different. 

“Do I think Bronson deserves to start Opening Day? Yeah, definitely for what he’s shown the past couple of years.”

“If I had my choice, I’d rather pitch two or three,” Arroyo said. “Cincinnati is one of the few places that Opening Day is really like a holiday. For that reason, it’s probably a little tough to concentrate on that day. There’s so much stuff going on. I’d rather enjoy that day, soak in all the festivities and pitch the next day or day after that.”

“Nobody is more honest than Bronson,” Baker said. “You might not like his answers. His answers will be honest. I love that. I ask a question, I want an honest answer. That’s the reason you communicate and talk to your players.”

Baker also set the top four spots of his rotation. It is:

Harang, Johnny Cueto, Arroyo, Homer Bailey and the No. 5 starter. There was a reason for moving Cueto ahead of Arroyo in the order, too.

“So you don’t tax your bullpen,” Baker said. “Harang, you know will give you innings. Cueto is not as consistent. Arroyo is consistent. Homer you don’t know. The fifth starter, you don’t know. You want to break up those guys because what if you had Arroyo and Harang back-to-back and the next three guys aren’t pitching well? You’re going to kill your bullpen. When you get back to Harang, you’ll have to stick with him longer because your bullpen is already spent.”

Historical note: Harang’s fifth-straight Opening Day assignment ties the club record for most consecutive first game starts held by Pete Donohue (1923-27) and Mario Soto, who did it from 1982-86. Soto holds the overall club record of six Opening Day starts.

OK folks — what do you think of this decision? Do you mind Harang starting the first game and being the staff ace again? Do you fault Arroyo for not wanting it?

I know the opener is sacred stuff in Cincinnati but I really don’t read too much into who gets to start to be honest. If Justin Lehr or Kip Wells got the nod, would anyone remember who started the first game if the Reds went on to win the World Series?

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I know it’s banal, but one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I really want to believe Harang is better, that Stubbs is the real deal, that Rolen was the missing key to success, that Gomes plus Dickerson makes a major league leftfielder, and so forth. I really want to believe the retread lineup will succeed this year unlike last year. But that’s a lot of believing. Let’s get the games started – maybe the kids can play their way onto the big-league squad. If we come north with 11 pitchers, 3 cathcers, and Cairo, Miles, Janish, Nix and Ballentien on the bench, my belief-capacity will have been squashed. Won’t happen? The kids have got to hit this month!

I like the decision. Granted Harang has had back to back sub-par seasons but just look at his opening day stats.
2009 vs Mets: 5IP 7H 1R 1ER 3BB 2K (L)
2008 vs D-Backs: 6IP 3H 3R 2ER 2BB 6K (L)
2007 vs Cubs: 7IP 6H 1R 0ER 2BB 5K(W)
2006 vs Cubs: 5IP 9H 9R 6ER 3BB 3K (L)
Excluding his first one in ’06 those look like pretty good numbers to me. Just need to figure out a way to score a few runs for him.

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