2017 Series Preview

Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds (22-24) at Philadelphia Phillies (16-29), May 26-28

The month of May has been nothing short of a nightmare for the Phillies. They managed to salvage the last game of the Rockies series but have won only five of their last 25 games.

One of the lone bright spots has been Tommy Joseph, who has raised his batting average from .179 to .255 and is hitting .323/.400/.646 with five homers this month. The rest of the lineup, especially Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, has looked completely lost. In five games this week, the Phils were outscored 7-26.

Simply by the law of averages this drudgery has to end eventually. This series is perhaps the Phils’ best chance all month to turn the corner.

What to expect

After winning eight of the first 10 games this month, the Reds come into Citizens Bank Park with just three wins in their last 12 games. Cincy hasn’t had much success at CBP either. The Reds are 0-9-1 in their last 10 series in Philly and are just 10-25 overall.

That said, the Reds have four players with 10 or more homers, the most in the league. The Phils’ pitching staff has given up 67 home runs through 45 games, fourth most in the majors. On the flip side, Cincinnati’s staff is just as long-ball happy, giving up 68 homers.

Don’t expect many low-scoring games in this one. Whether the Phils will be a part of that remains to be seen.

Probable starters

Friday, 7:05 p.m., Tim Adelman (2-2, 6.19 ERA) vs. Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.52 ERA)

The Phillies couldn’t have asked for anything more in Nola’s return from the disabled list last weekend. He went seven innings (!), giving up just four hits and one run with five strikeouts against Pittsburgh. In two games against Cincinnati last season, Nola gave up just two runs in 14 innings.

Adleman’s start was pushed back until Friday due to the Reds’ rainout against Cleveland on Thursday. He’s had an up-and-down season, most recently giving up a career-high six runs in 4.2 innings against the Rockies.

Saturday, 4:05 p.m., Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75 ERA) vs. Jerad Eickoff (0-5, 4.70 ERA)

Arroyo will have a much-needed extra day of rest when he takes the mound on Saturday. After missing the 2015 and 2016 season with injuries, the 40-year old righthander has failed to prove he still belongs in a major league rotation. He’s allowed 15 home runs, the third most in baseball, and surrendered 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in his last two starts.

After being the model of consistency last season, Eickhoff has had his fair share of struggles. That said, he’s been a victim of bad luck and certainly isn’t as nearly as bad as his record indicates. He’s made some mechanical adjustments and pitched six innings in his last two starts, as a result.

Sunday, 1:35 p.m., Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.99 ERA) vs. Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.36 ERA)

If Feldman has control of his breaking ball the way he did against the Indians earlier this week, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the struggling Phillies lineup. He struck out nine and limited their state rivals to just one run over six innings.

You can chalk it up to this hellish month the Phils have been having, but there’s no denying Eflin needs to turn it around. After allowing just 10 earned runs in his first five starts, Eflin has given up 15 earned runs in his last two games. He’s not a strikeout pitcher so he’s going to need to keep his pitches, especially his sinker, low and pitch for contact if he doesn’t want the ball flying out of CBP.

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