(Go listen to our Playoff Preview Podcast. I kinda buried it beneath other stuff, and before it gets pushed too far down the page, I wanted to point it out. We had a lot of fun on this one.)
I know everyone is expecting the Phillies to win this series going away. Don’t count on it. This is the most resilient Reds team I’ve ever seen. Every time the chips have been down, they’ve come out swinging. Every time they’ve been counted out, they rebounded to play some great baseball. When the game starts tonight, watch the eyes of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen and Arthur Rhodes. These guys are ready.
More specifically, however, the Reds match up against the Phillies much better than anyone realizes. Outside of the Queen City, does anyone realize that Cincinnati has the better offense, anchored by Votto, who is only the best player in the National League? This team has scored runs in bunches all year, and there is no reason to expect that to change. How about defense? By almost any measure, the Reds are the superior defensive club, with three Gold Glove-caliber players in Brandon Phillips, Bruce, and Rolen.
Oh yeah, one more thing: the Phils have no answer whatsoever to The Phenom, the Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman. Ryan Howard just wet his pants at the thought of facing the Chapman slider, and the 105-MPH heat.
Yes, the Phillies have a better starting rotation. Can’t argue that point. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels are great. Don’t forget, however, that the Reds already knocked Halladay around to the tune of thirteen hits in one game earlier this season. Yes, Halladay is human. Imagine that. Oswalt? He’s been a Reds-killer his entire career, but the Reds have figured him out; in his starts against the Reds since May of last year, Oswalt is 0-4 with 6.65 ERA. (I’m just going to ignore Hamels, because he befuddles Cincinnati.)
Yes, Philadelphia has the better rotation. So did the Atlanta Braves for more than a decade. How many World Series rings did they win?
Cincinnati has the better offense, the better defense, the best player on the field, and the most electrifying relief pitcher in the world. I’ll take my chances.
The Cincinnati Reds are going to win this Division Series. (I hope.)