Sports Today: Blue Jackets halfway to a breakthrough as Reds’ descent continues

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after the Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after the Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

A nightmarish start to the baseball season in Cincinnati continued over the weekend, but let’s start with some good news. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets are making a strong early case to be the story of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The CBJ went to Washington and won the first two games against the Capitals, who are favored by seeding but seen as vulnerable by just about everyone who follows hockey. 

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That is because the Capitals have a tendency to disappoint at this time of the season, but also because the Blue Jackets are really good. 

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They have a great goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky, and Artemi Panarin gives them the type of offensive weapon who can carry a team for a while, so they certainly look like a tough out against anyone. 

Their 2-0 series lead can’t help but make one wonder if Columbus could be to the 2018 playoffs what Nashville was in 2017. 

The Predators upset the Blackhawks (in no small part because Panarin was nearly nonexistent for Chicago) in the first round last season then went all the way to the finals, collecting adoring media stories about them and their fans along the way. 

Like Nashville, Columbus is a relatively unknown hockey market since the CBJ have never won a playoff series and they don’t play in Detroit, Chicago or on a coast… 

Sunday saw the St. Louis Cardinals complete the least-surprising four-game sweep in the history of Major League Baseball. 

I cannot really fathom how the Reds could win a game against a good team, so I penciled in losses before the Cardinals got to town. 

That made the weekend less disappointing, I guess. 

On the bright side, the Reds were closer to winning a couple of times over the weekend than they seemed to be at the beginning of this losing streak. 

On the down side, they have Brandon Finnegan saying something ridiculous like, “It seems like everyone is getting lucky against us.” 

Actually, the Reds are in this hole less than three weeks into the season because they have played mostly terrible baseball. 

Nobody thought this was a World Series team, but I was among those who thought they could get close to .500 because they would get good hitting most of the time and good pitching about half the time. 

Hence they could win about half their games. 

Instead, the offense has been absolutely atrocious, the defense has been disappointing and the pitching has been probably what was expected. 

Of course, not having Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler in the lineup has hurt the offense. 

The manager has done plenty to cripple the team over the past week, too. 

That would include starting Finnegan, who hasn’t done nearly enough to be given a spot in the rotation when the younger, more talented Amir Garrett is also available… 

Meanwhile, Nick Senzel is still in Triple-A

I thought they might when he started playing third base early last week, but I don’t really mind them not calling him up given what a disaster the major-league club is at the moment.

It stands to reason they are at least discussing firing Price, causing more upheaval in the short term, so leaving The Future (Part 1) in the minors to work out some kinks against a different level of competition than he has previously faced is probably not the worst idea. 

Also Senzel went through a slump early last week, but he seems to have pulled out of it, for what that is worth.... 

Then there is The Future (Part 2). 

Hunter Greene was supposed to make his second Dayton Dragons start over the weekend, but Mother Nature had other plans. 

All three games scheduled against the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich., were postponed by wet winter weather (even though the calendar shows this is April). 

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That is really good news for Dragons fans because it means Greene’s next start is now scheduled for Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field. 

If everything had gone as planned, Greene wouldn’t have made another home start until the middle of May. 

As of now, Wednesday looks like the best day of the week as far as weather. 

We’ll see if that holds. 

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Even if the Reds remain unwatchable, the Cincinnati Bengals should give us plenty to talk about over the next couple of months. 

That starts this week with voluntary workouts at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday and a big group of locals scheduled for a pro day there Tuesday. 

Two Ohio State defensive players -- Jerome Baker and Jalyn Holmes -- are probably the most talented players on that list, but the two most intriguing to me might be quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Malik Zaire. 

They could not have had more different college careers, but they both look like potential developmental options for a team that like the Bengals has an established starter. 

 

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