The start of the 2018 season could have gone worse for the Cincinnati Reds, though not by much.
They are not only 2-6 and in last place but the offense has been a big let-down, scoring three runs or less in five of those games.
Eugenio Suarez provided a big spark Saturday night with the game-tying and game-winning hits in a 7-4 victory then a Jameson Taillon pitch broke his thumb Sunday afternoon.
The third baseman is expected to be out for more than a month, a big blow to a team that enters the week 14th in the National League in runs per game.
Taillon went the distance Sunday, allowing exactly zero hits to Reds position players en route to a 5-0 victory.
Starting pitcher Tyler Mahle had the only Cincinnati hit, which made it even more of a shame he was not around by the top of the sixth inning because he allowed five runs on nine hits.
Young starters like Mahle are going to have their ups and downs — hopefully Luis Castillo is ready for an up next time out — so the Reds are going to have to score some runs to think about climbing anywhere near .500 this season.
So far the team batting average is, well, average, but Cincinnati bats have had little pop and they have attempted a league-low two steals.
That isn’t going to cut it.
The pitching staff has put up some ugly numbers, too, but they look closer to decent if you remove the eight runs allowed by Yovani Gallardo and Austin Brice’s disastrous four-run Friday night.
The bright side of Suarez’s injury would be getting to see top prospect Nick Senzel now rather than in a month or two, but it does not look like that is going to happen.
Alex Blandino, who is also a No. 1 draft choice, is already on the 40-man roster and reportedly was removed from the Louisville lineup shortly after Suarez was hurt.
The team certainly wants to avoid starting Senzel’s major-league service time clock (he will have to wait another year to be eligible for arbitration and then to be a free agent if they wait until later this month to call him up), but perhaps they also want to give him a chance to get comfortable at Triple-A and playing a new position (second base) after moving around the diamond in spring training.
He and Blandino both had good springs, and getting some major-league exposure for Blandino isn’t all bad in case he can be a utility player on future Reds squads.
While securing an extra year of Senzel’s services is sensible from a long-term financial standpoint, the team might be missing a more immediate business opportunity.
With the team off to a terrible start and the offense in a general funk, giving fans another reason to come to the ballpark might make some sense, no?
Closer to home, tonight is the night Dayton Dragons fans are to get their first look at 2017 first-round pick Hunter Greene.
Hopefully they will be more welcoming than Mother Nature as the temperature at the time of the first pitch is expected to be in the low 40s.
The Dragons lost their first three games of the season before rallying to beat Bowling Green 4-2 on Sunday.
So far the hottest Dragons have been Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild, who are hitting .375 and .357, respectively.
Reds phenom as advertised off the field https://t.co/tJ8OIwQbt2— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 4, 2018
Ohio State basketball got good news and bad over the weekend.
The Buckeyes won’t be getting immediate help from Kyle Castin next season, but coach Chris Holtmann will add a transfer to his roster for 2019-20 in the form of C.J. Walker.
Two years ago, Walker was a composite four-star point guard at Arsenal Tech in Indianapolis, which also happens to be where Holtmann was the coach at Butler University until last summer.
Walker started 34 of 35 games at point guard for Florida State last season, averaging 8.0 points and 2.4 assists for a Seminoles team that reached the Elite Eight. He shot 35.5 percent from 3-point range.
Walker will have two years of eligibility left after sitting out the upcoming season.
Castin is a graduate transfer from Columbia who announced Sunday he will suit up for Xavier this fall…
SPORTS TODAY PM RT: Urban Meyer asks Northmont pair for patience, Reds OF smartly playing it safe and @WayneAthletics stars set to play in bball all-star game https://t.co/pksnAXCXYn pic.twitter.com/J9bo4bRepb— daytonsports (@daytonsports) April 4, 2018
Meanwhile, Anthony Grant’s attempts to reshape the Dayton basketball roster continue as well.
ESPN reports Dayton will get a visit from Kennesaw State transfer James Scott later this month, and the Flyers are among numerous teams who have reportedly shown interest in Colorado State transfer Prentiss Nixon.
Grant has five open scholarships for next season, though it appears neither Scott nor Nixon will be eligible to play at their new school until 2019-20.
» RELATED: April recruiting period important for Dayton
As both UD and OSU learned last year, a lot can change in one offseason now in college basketball.
With NCAA transfer rules (which apparently are likely to change next year), the flow of talent used to be mostly one way (out), at least in the short term, as more players were leaving than coming in.
Now with graduate transfers becoming so prominent, some high school seniors waiting until spring to sign and others even reclassifying to change grades and start their college careers early, college coaches have more options for adding players who can help right away.
Offseasons have definitely gotten busier, but is it better?