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Game XXXIX Thread: The Reds of Cincinnati versus the Royals of Kansas City

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Down with Communism.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While anti-Communist sentiments run strong in these parts, it's probably best to move past the fact that the players occupying the visiting dugout are champions of Marxism and focus on the baseball.

Opening Day starters Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura take to the rubber tonight in the first of two games between the Reds and Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

The story of the first six weeks of the season have been very different for the two pitchers who were their team's presumptive aces when the season started.

Johnny Cueto has lived in and around the strike zone more than ever, throwing strikes at a 53.6% clip more than five percentage points higher than his career 48.0% mark. Despite this fact, his BABIP is a sterling .235, which at first glance would seem unsustainable until one looked at his .238 mark last year and his .235 mark during his partial 2013 campaign that was marred by a strained latissimus dorsi in his throwing shoulder. In throwing more strikes, he has cut down his BB/9 to a 1.70 mark, or roughly half as many as Yordano Ventura has allowed (3.35).

Ventura, on the other hand, has been replacement level. Were it not for the sterling performance of the bullpen and an offense that finds itself third in baseball in runs scored, Ventura's struggles would be the cause of much consternation. With those other things breaking the Royals' way, however, Ventura's performance (or lack thereof) has not been the front-page problem it could have been. As for the performance itself, there isn't much need to go beyond his 5.36 ERA or 4.93 FIP. His HR-rates have been high, but such is the life of a flame-thrower whose command is substandard--or at least has been thus far.

Ventura will face the following lineup:

And these will be the Royals Cueto is to face: