Newcomer Montas named Reds' Opening Day starter

March 10th, 2024

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The new guy will start off a new season for the Cincinnati Reds.

Free-agent acquisition will get the starting nod for Opening Day against the Nationals on March 28 at Great American Ball Park, manager David Bell confirmed Sunday. It will mark the third Opening Day assignment for the right-handed Montas, who handled the assignment for the A’s in 2020 and 2022, in the last five years, though obviously, his first such duty for the Reds.

Hunter Greene, who was the other obvious option for the opportunity, will start the second game of the season on March 30.

“It’s a tough decision,” Bell said. “Only one guy can pitch. Frankie’s done some things in his career. Just because of his experience and how much success he’s had. It’s a tough call. Obviously, Opening Day in Cincinnati is really important to all of our guys. That’s acknowledged, 100 percent. But game two will be just as important.”

Bell made the announcement after the Reds’ 5-3 Cactus League victory over the Guardians, by which point Montas was not available to speak to reporters.

The Reds signed Montas, who turns 31 next week, to a one-year, $16 million guaranteed contract in an effort to bring some veteran stability to their largely inexperienced rotation. The hope is that he can revive his career in Cincinnati after a difficult time with the Yankees, much the same way Sonny Gray did in 2019.

Montas is 37-35 with a 3.90 ERA and 105 ERA+ in 130 appearances, including 99 starts, in his eight big-league seasons. He finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting in 2021 with the A’s and had a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts for Oakland in 2022, prior to a midseason trade to the Yankees.

Beset by shoulder problems that ultimately required surgery, Montas had a brutal time in the Bronx, posting a 6.15 ERA in nine appearances and 41 innings in 2022-23. He pitched just 1 1/3 of those innings last year.

The Reds placed a bet on a Montas bounceback, and they’re also hoping Greene and his electric right arm can reach their potential after his 2023 in which he put up a 4.82 ERA and 95 ERA+ and dealt with a hip injury that limited him to 22 starts.

“Hunter, as young as he is, may be out there on Opening Day many times,” Bell said.

But Bell has been impressed by Montas, who has come to camp hungry to make the most of his new opportunity.

“Frankie did a great job of coming in ready for camp,” Bell said. “He did stand out, with his level of preparation when he got here. He certainly was honored [by the Opening Day assignment]. He’s already become a big part of our team, and I think he also realizes he’s at a different part of his career and has a lot to offer our other [pitchers].”