John Clay

Cincinnati Reds pitching upgrades look promising for 2019

Random notes:

Give the Reds credit. They’re trying. First, Cincinnati acquired starting pitcher Tanner Roark from the Nationals. Next, they pulled off a blockbuster deal to acquire Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Matt Kemp from the Dodgers. Now they’ve acquired starting pitcher Sonny Gray from the Yankees.

Of all the pickups, Gray may be the most interesting. Once a budding star with the Oakland A’s, Gray regressed last season with the New York Yankees when he posted a 4.90 ERA. With the Reds, he’ll be reunited with his old Vanderbilt pitching coach, Derek Johnson. The hope is the reunion will reignite the 29-year-old Gray’s career.

Thus the 2019 Reds’ rotation stacks up as Gray, Roark, Wood, Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani. That’s an improvement over recent rotations.

The Reds’ payroll is now at $120 million. Their payroll last year was $100.3 million, which ranked 25th.

Speaking of the Reds, expect quite the farewell tour for the great Marty Brennaman, the club’s longtime radio voice who announced last week this will be his final season. Marty is 76 years old. And there will never be another one quite like him.

Tony Romo was ridiculous, as in ridiculously good in calling the Patriots-Chiefs AFC title game on Sunday. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, now CBS lead color analyst, was predicting nearly every play call down the stretch and in overtime. Plus, Romo provides the viewer the information with so much joy. Just tremendous.

CBS says the Pats-Chiefs game drew an estimated 53.9 million viewers. That’s three times as many viewers as the most-watched World Series or NBA Finals game last year.

As bad as was the missed call on obvious pass interference against the Rams late in the NFC title game win over the Saints, making pass interference reviewable by instant replay would be worse.

Probably in the minority, but I like the NFL overtime as it is right now. Defense counts too. And I much prefer the NFL overtime over college football’s overtime.

Win or lose, like them or hate them, let there be no doubt Bill Belichick is the greatest NFL coach of all time and Tom Brady is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time.

The Super Bowl will feature two former Georgia running backs in Todd Gurley (Rams) and Sony Michel (Patriots). Michel rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns against UK in 2017, 127 yards and a TD in 2016 and 165 yards and a score in 2015. The Cats held Gurley to 77 rushing yards in 2013 and 47 in 2012.

The Super Bowl will also feature the son of former Clark County and EKU standout Rick Burkhead. Rex Burkhead scored two TDs, including the game-winner in overtime for the Patriots against Kansas City. Rex Burkhead was born in Central Kentucky before the family moved to Texas. After playing collegiately at Nebraska, Burkhead was drafted in the sixth round by Cincinnati, where he spent four seasons before signing with New England last year.

More NFL Draft projections: Writing for the Washington Post, John Clayton has UK outside linebacker Josh Allen going second overall to the 49ers.

On Thursday we find out if Accelerate beats out Justify for Horse of the Year honors when the annual Eclipse Awards are announced at Gulfstream Park. On Saturday we find out if 9-5 favorite Accelerate can beat out 11 competitors in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream. One to watch: Audible, who is 10-1 in the morning line.

In case you missed it, former Kentucky outside linebackers coach Andy Buh has been named defensive coordinator at Rutgers. Buh was at Maryland the past three seasons.

In case you didn’t know, Dick Vitale has a new book out — “Dick Vitale’s Mount Rushmore of College Basketball” which spans his four decades at ESPN. Even if you’re not a Vitale fan, it’s a fun read. Plus, all the proceeds go to fighting childhood cancer. Few have done as much for that cause as Dick Vitale.

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