Back to Baseball: Phillies Make Return with Series in Cincinnati

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso

When you're used to seeing stretches of 20 games in 20 days, with minimal days off the whole season, weekends like this don't feel right. The Phillies managed to play the Marlins on Friday, but after a scheduled day off on Thursday, and two postponements this weekend, the Phillies are playing for the first time since Friday night, and looking to end a two-game losing streak that started last Wednesday. With Saturday afternoon's game being the only one in question, the Phillies hopped a flight to Cincinnati as soon as they could on Saturday. That's where they will be for the next four games, facing the Reds in Cincy for the first time since moving on to the 2010 NLCS.

The Reds were certainly a playoff test last season for the Phillies, even though the series was swept by the Phillies behind some great pitching. This is not the same Reds team as last season. Sure, they still have power in the lineup, as evidence by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips, but they are sitting in third place in the NL Central with a record hovering at .500, some games back of the Brewers. The Reds offense is still among the best in the league. Votto leads the way with a .325 average, 26 home runs, and 86 RBIs. Bruce killed the Phillies in their four-game series in Philadelphia, and is hitting .262 with 28 home runs and 85 RBIs. Phillips is hitting .297 with 12 home runs and 73 RBIs. The Reds also enter this series on a hot streak, sweeping the Nationals this weekend, and winning their last four.

Here are the pitching matchups for this series.

In the opener, Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62 ERA) takes on Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.44 ERA). Hamels hasn't pitched since August 12th, when he took the loss to the Nationals allowing three runs over five innings. He faced the Reds once this season on May 23rd, and allowed three runs over six innings in the Phillies' 10-3 win. In eight career starts against the Reds, Hamels is 7-0 with a 1.43 ERA. Remember that Hamels also threw a five-hit shutout against the Reds in the deciding Game 3 of the NLDS last season. Bailey allowed three runs over seven innings, taking a no-decision in the Reds' 6-5 loss to the Marlins. He faced the Phillies once this season on May 26th, allowing four runs in four innings and taking a no-decision in the Phillies' 10-4 win. In four career starts against the Phillies, Bailey is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA.

In the second game, Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.56 ERA) goes against Bronson Arroyo (8-10, 5.02 ERA). Halladay's last start was victimized by rain. He pitched an excellent five innings, allowing two runs, but was forced out due to a lengthy delay. He took a no-decision in that game. He faced the Reds once this year on May 25th, allowing three runs in seven innings. He took a no-decision in a game the Phillies won in 19 innings, 5-4. In five career starts against the Reds, Halladay is 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA. Remember that Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS last season. Arroyo pitched eight shutout innings, holding the Marlins to six hits in a 3-2 win. He allowed nine runs over 2 2/3 innings to the Phillies on May 23rd, a 10-3 win for the Phils. In nine career games (eight starts) against the Phillies, Arroyo is 1-6 with a 7.13 ERA.

In the third game, Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.71 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies. Lee allowed just three hits over seven shutout innings against the Mets his last start. Lee faced the Reds on May 26th, and allowed four runs over eight innings in the Phillies' 10-4 win. In nine career starts against the Reds, Lee is 5-2 with a 4.66 ERA.

In the finale, Vance Worley (9-1, 2.65 ERA) faces Mike Leake (11-8, 4.04 ERA). Worley allowed just one run over seven innings against the Mets his last time up, improving to 9-1 on the season. He faced the Reds on May 24th, and took a no-decision, allowing three runs over five innings in the Phillies' 6-3 loss. That is his only start against the Reds. Leake won his last start against the Nationals, going six inning and allowing two runs. He has yet to face the Phillies this season. In two career starts against the Phillies, Leake is 0-0 with a 6.91 ERA.

August 29 – Phillies 7, Reds 3
August 30 – Phillies 4, Reds 1
August 31 – Phillies 3, Reds 4
September 1 – Phillies 5, Reds 2

The Phillies actually appear to have an edge in this series, even with the Reds entering the hotter team. The Phillies simply haven't lost games in bunches lately, so with nearly a week between their last win, the Phillies will look to avenge that soon. It helps to have several pitchers with good track records against the Reds going as well.

In the opener, the Phillies are sending the Red killer to the mound. Even returning from injury, Cole Hamels was said to look "fabulous" in his last bullpen. Look for him to dominate the Reds while getting some solid offense behind him.

In the second game, look for Roy Halladay to be his usual brilliant self. Halladay's last two starts aren't what he would have expected them to be, so he'll be looking to make a good start. The offense might be a little off against Arroyo, but with Halladay on the mound, the Phillies can't go wrong here.

In the third game, with a pitcher still undecided, I actually expect the Phillies to fall. Cliff Lee should throw well enough to pick up his 15th win of the season, but with an offensive struggle that night, the Reds should have the edge. Dontrelle Willis is likely going to get the start for the Reds. Lee doesn't have the best ERA when it comes to the Reds offense, so that could be a problem as well.

In the finale, look for Vance Worley to have another excellent game. Worley didn't throw his best game when he faced the Reds in Philly this season. That was then, this is now. Worley is one win away from his 10th this season, certainly an impressive feat for a rookie pitcher. But, Worley doesn't seem like a rookie anymore, especially with so much veteran presence around him. As usual, he'll get just enough offense to cruise to victory.

The Phillies head to Florida for a three-game series against the Marlins following this series.

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