The Cincinnati Reds, who won the NL Central, are making their first playoff appearance since 1995. And, for that effort, they get to face the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have won their fourth straight NL East title, and are trying to win the pennant for the third straight time. The Phillies were seven games back of the Atlanta Braves in July, but made a push and won the East by six games. The Reds were not expected to hang on, but the St. Louis Cardinals faded in the second half of the season and were not a threat in September.
The Reds are the one team that can match the Phillies offense. They average 4.9 runs a game, and that number only goes down to 4.8 on the road. The Reds have hit 188 home runs this season, while the Phillies have 166 home runs.The Phillies average 4.8 runs a game.
The Reds are led by first baseman Joey Votto, who batted .324 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. He led the National League with a slugging percentage at .600.
The Phillies home run totals are down a bit this season, but they are led by Ryan Howard, who had 31 home runs. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth provide balance to the lineup.
Here are the projected lineups
Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips (.275), SS Orlando Cabrera (.263), 1B Joey Votto (.324, 3B Scott Rolen (.285), LF Jonny Gomes (.266), RF Jay Bruce (.281), CF Drew Stubbs (.255), C Ramon Hernandez (.297).
Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins (.243), 3B Placido Polanco (.298), 2B Chase Utley (.275),1B Ryan Howard (.276), RF Jayson Werth (.296), LF Raul Ibanez (.275), CF Shane Victorino (.259, C Carlos Ruiz (.302).
This is where these two teams separate themselves. Just look at Game 1 starters. The Reds send out Edinson Volquez. He has a 4.31 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP. His last three starts have not been bad, going 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.113 WHIP.
But it does not quite match up with the Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay, who went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.041 WHIP. His last three starts have been just as good, going 3-0 and has a 2.45 ERA and a 0.955 WHIP. Halladay is 1-1 this season against the Reds, losing in June, 4-3, but winning 1-0 in July. Volquez has not faced the Phillies this season.
Game 2 will have right-hander Bronson Arroyo (17-10, 3.88 ERA), who has the only playoff experience on the staff. He will face Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt (7-1, 1.74 in 13 games). Game 3, the Reds will pitch right-hander Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64), while the Phillies will send out left-hander Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06).
(All times EDT) Game 1, Wednesday, at Philadelphia (5:07 p.m.); Game 2, Friday, at Philadelphia (6:07 p.m.); Game 3, Sunday, at Cincinnati (TBA); x-Game 4, Monday, Oct. 11, at Cincinnati (TBA); x-Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 13, at Philadelphia (TBA). x-if necessary.
The bookmakers have opened the Phils as a -275 favorite over the longshot Reds and they have seen more money come in on Philadelphia driving the lines up and the current odds are now Philadelphia -305 with +255 take back on the Reds.
The Phillies are 5-2 (+2.7 Units) against the Reds season, and 4 of 7 games in this series have gone under the total. The Reds are the feel-good story of the playoffs, but the pitching the Phillies will throw out there is brutal and the Reds cannot match it. The Phillies should win in three games, maybe the Reds can squeeze out one victory.