This is the Phillies Nation Roundtable. We’ll get you set for the playoffs with a double-dip of roundtable questions with our PN crew. Later, we’ll ask a question about the regular season, but now that we know about the Phils NLDS opponent, we’ll start with the postseason. Tomorrow, look for an in-depth breakdown of the series from all angles.
Question: The Phillies will face the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS starting on Wednesday. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most favorable to the Phillies, 1 being least favorable) how do you think the Phils match up with the Reds in the opening series?
Pat Gallen: I’d say it’s a 7.5. The Reds have decent starting pitching with a top-three of Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, and Johnny Cueto. All have been great at times this season, but Volquez was in the minor leagues as recent as early September, Arroyo doesn’t go very deep into games, and Cueto gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings just two weeks ago. All can be crushed, but all can be spectacular, too. Arroyo is the only one with any postseason experience, so the question is; can the Reds staff hang with a team that has been there four straight seasons? Starting pitching is where the Phils hold a decisive advantage, although with Aroldis Chapman in the pen, the Reds have a weapon to use against the Phils lefties.
Offensively, they surely can hang with the Phils. MVP candidate Joey Votto leads the Reds, who scored 780 runs, the most in the National League this season. Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and old friend Scott Rolen round out a potent and skilled group of bats. While the offenses are very close and similar in nature, the advantage is on the pitching side for the Phillies, especially the starters. With all of their prior playoff precision, I think this is about 7.5 on the favorable scale for the Phillies.
Amanda Orr: 6.5. I was really hoping that the Padres would win the Wild Card because I think that the Reds are the toughest road to the NLCS. I think the Phillies are the favorites, but I still think the Reds are a tough opponent.
Offensively, I think it’s fairly even. As far as collective team stats go, the Reds gained the edge. However, the Phillies were without Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard at parts of the season. Now, they are all back. The Phillies win offensively now, but the Reds are no slouch. Joey Votto scares me.
Pitching-wise, the Phillies get the advantage. The Reds are going to face three aces. On the other hand, the Reds have Bronson Arroyo slated as number two. The Reds have some decent young arms, but they have yet to reach their peak.
Kieran Carobine: Considering the alternative (SF Giants) I think this is a favorable series for the Phillies. I give it a +8 rating. This Reds team might be the only team that can really match up offensively against the Phils. They led league in home runs and could end up with the National Leagues MVP in Joey Votto. I just don’t see this series being a big slugfest. I think we will see a lot of low scoring games.
The real edge for the Phillies is their pitching staff. The big three of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels is what is going to win this series; not to mention the LCS and World Series.
Out of the big three, Roy Oswalt has had the most success against this Reds team. He is 23-3 overall in 34 games against Cincinnati. Cole Hamels is unbeaten against the Reds at 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA. Three of those wins have come at Great American Ball Park, where he will be pitching Game 3. And Roy Halladay is, well, Roy Halladay. He leads the league in wins, shutouts, complete games and innings. He is also, in my opinion, the front runner for the National League Cy Young award.
Paul Boye: I’d give this an 8. It’s tough to get complacent or too comfortable, but the Phillies match up well with every team in the National League. The only trepidation we should have is that this is a five-game series, and is essentially a crapshoot. The Phillies hold a rather distinct advantage in pitching (especially starting pitching) and, one could argue, an advantage in offense as well.
The trio of Halladay/Oswalt/Hamels makes just about any series favorable, but in such a short series, it would behoove us all to be on guard. Trap games do exist, and they may spring up on the Phillies when they least expect it.
On paper, as said before, the Phillies match up very well with any team. The key is neutralizing the batters ahead of Joey Votto. Limiting his at-bats to occasions when he has no runners on ahead of him will be very important.
Michael Baumann: On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d put the matchup with the Reds at a 6. I’m of the opinion that there’s a four-way dead heat for the best team in the postseason, between the Yankees, Twins, Rays, and Phillies, and the rest of the teams in the playoffs are vastly inferior. The Reds, as I’ve noted before, have a “happy to be here” vibe to them, plus the albatross that is Dusty Baker. The Phils have to be the favorites. With that said, the Reds still won 91 games and boast the best player in the NL this season in Joey Votto, a rejuvenated Scott Rolen, and 7 other starters and two often-used reserve outfielders (Laynce Nix and Chris Heisey) with an OPS+ over 100. This team has enough good hitters that someone ought to be hot at any given moment, plus two good lefty relievers and enough competent (though not great) starting pitchers to steal at least one game. I’d expect the Phillies to win this series, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it went four or even five games.