Scott Feldman pitched out of the bullpen last year at Houston, but by twists, turns and quirks of fate, he will be an Opening Day starter in Cincinnati this year at Great American Ball Park.
It will be his third Opening Day start and his second career appearance at Great American Ball Park.
Feldman, 34, started on Opening Day for Texas in 2010 against Toronto. The Reds hope that is an omen because that Rangers team went on to win the American League pennant.
Feldman also started Opening Day for Houston in 2014, and that Astros team lost 92 games.
“It’s pretty cool,” Feldman said. “I know about the history of Cincinnati, being like the capitol of Opening Day.”
When Feldman signed with the Reds, it was unknown what role he would have on the pitching staff. But manager Bryan Price early on named him as one of his three starters.
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Anthony DeSclafani was the most likely to start on Opening Day, but he was shut down for a month with elbow problems and will start the season on the disabled list. Homer Bailey, the most tenured Reds’ starter, had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in early February, and won’t be available until at least June 1.
That brought the choice down to Brandon Finnegan and Feldman, the only two known to be in the Reds’ rotation to date.
“You can’t really predict the future,” Feldman said. “You have to stay ready for everything. It’s just an honor to get the ball on Opening Day. You want to get off to a good start and build on it for the rest of the season.”
Feldman has pitched in three Cactus League games this spring, allowing four earned runs, seven hits and two walks in eight innings of work.
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“I think Scott has the experience and the way he commands the strike zone, makes him the best candidate,” Price said. “My interpretation of Scott throughout spring training is exactly the guy we were looking for and we targeted, a veteran guy with a presence. He has a savvy that will serve us well.
“Part of the decision is the fact that we don’t have Homer or DeSclafani ready to go,” Price continued. “That being said, I couldn’t be happier to have Scott Feldman to be able to go to in this exact situation.”
The only other game Feldman pitched at Great American Ball Park was as the starter for the Chicago Cubs in 2013. He took the loss, pitching 5.1 innings while allowing five runs, including home runs to Joey Votto and Ryan Hanigan. Feldman also hit a home run off Bronson Arroyo.
Later that season Feldman was traded to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta.
Feldman signed a three-year contract with the Houston Astros in 2014. He made the Opening Day start for Houston against the New York Yankees in 2014. He made 18 starts for Houston in 2015 but spent most of last season in the bullpen. He was 5-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 26 appearances.
Feldman was traded to Toronto last August. He was 2-1 with an 8.40 ERA for Toronto in 14 relief appearances. The Reds signed Feldman to a one-year contract in January.
W-L; ERA; G; GS
2016 7-4; 3.97; 40; 5;
Career 71-77; 4.40; 321; 183;
Who: Phillies at Reds
Where: Great American Ball Park
When: Monday, April 3
First pitch: 4:10 p.m.
TV/Radio: FS Ohio, 700, 1410