(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.)

15 Responses

  1. Ethan D

    The last team that had a comparable top 3 in the rotation to the Phillies were Carpenter, Wainwright, and Pineiro last year.

    They were swept

  2. BenL

    I can’t wait. I’ve got Tickets tonight, and I’m leaving work in just a 5 hours or so to get down there! Playing Philly has at least one advantage (for me) 🙂 Not sure I’m ready for the Phillies fans at playoff intensity, though…

    Fans aside, I feel good about tonight, and a win would be huge. Go Redlegs!!!!!

  3. jacobreds

    You just never know in baseball. So many invariables.

    I wonder if the Reds have a better shot if the series goes to 5 games. That’s one more time to see Halladay and Oswalt. Just a thought.

    Also, I think patience at the plate is key for us. If we go up hacking on the first pitch, giving Halladay 10-pitch innings, then I think that decreases our chances drastically. We’ve got to seriously work some counts, and try to get these Phillies pitchers up in pitches by the 6th inning to try to get into their bullpen.

    From a pitching standpoint, our bullpen is a strength. Our starters have no reason to save anything for later when it comes to these games. If they’ve pitched 5-6 innings of 1-2 run ball, I’m happy with our starting pitching. Get our superior bullpen in there and let them do their job.

  4. TC

    Well played, Chad. I do expect the Reds will not embarrass themselves, but I think the Phillies will take the series. I CANNOT be disappointed no matter what happens though. This team has been worth every minute and every dime I’ve spent on them this year. I can’t ask for anything more.

  5. Python Curtus

    You cannot hope to beat Roy Halladay right off the bat. You can only hope to outlast him. If they can get to the bullpen, the Reds will take it.
    I expect to go the full 5 with a lot of low scoring games. I think the Reds will win this round. I’m kind of expecting the Reds and Rangers in the series.
    I just hope Baker does the right thing and leaves Edmonds off the roster. This is not the time to risk a serious injury. Francisco may be the next Willie Greene/Edwin Encarnacion, but at least he’s in good shape

  6. MikeB

    @Steve: Disagree, Corky is a complete waste of a roster spot, b/c he is only going to play if something very freaky happens. You’re not going to use him as a PH, or a PR, so he’s only insurance for burning both catchers.

    I don’t think Dusty will hesitate to use a C as a pinch hitter if the situation dictates it.

  7. Ethan D

    It’s hard to compare offenses because the Phils had significant injuries to key players. It might be Reds by a hair, but it’s not Reds by 10%, which is what their OPS+ difference is, for example. Reds have the better defense, but is Rolen really gold glove caliber? It’s really all out the window. One can’t really analyze a five game postseason series. But the above was Chad the fan more than Chad the analyst anyways. Personally, I’m just happy the team is in the playoffs. I wouldn’t pitch Volquez, I’d rather see Wood, as I’ve said, but again, they are in the playoffs.One thing I’m wondering, if the Reds get to the 8th, say, and neither Rhodes nor Chapman has been used, who’s going to be called on in the key situation vs Utley/Howard/Ibanez? Rhodes struggled against the Phillies lefties this year, at least in two of the higher profile games, anyways—Ibanez hit that triple in CIN and Howard that killer HR in PHI. I’d personally hope Chapman is the guy, but…

    You have to think Dusty would use Chapman. Rhodes hasn’t been the same for a few months now and the Phillies havent seen Chapman before.

  8. Chad Dotson

    @Dave Lowenthal: Yes, I would’ve much preferred Alonso over Francisco. It’s not like they are counting on this spot for anything other than a pinch-hitter, and I trust Alonso in that situation more.

    I’d be surprised if Francisco ever steps on the field, anywhere other than the batter’s box. Cairo and Janish are your infield backups.

  9. Chad Dotson

    @BenL: Have fun, Ben! Wish I could be there.

    I’m actually trying to talk myself out of heading to Philly on Friday.

  10. Chad Dotson

    It’s hard to compare offenses because the Phils had significant injuries to key players. It might be Reds by a hair, but it’s not Reds by 10%, which is what their OPS+ difference is, for example. Reds have the better defense, but is Rolen really gold glove caliber? It’s really all out the window. One can’t really analyze a five game postseason series. But the above was Chad the fan more than Chad the analyst anyways.

    All this is true. This was definitely a Chad the fan post. I think it’s all defensible, but there is definitely some nuance that I didn’t delve into.

    The point, really, was just to say that this series may be closer than anyone expected. It isn’t like the Reds aren’t a pretty good team. Yeah, the Phils are probably better, but Cincy isn’t chopped liver. So I wanted to make a rah-rah post on that topic. 🙂

    As for Rolen, yes, I think he’s Gold Glove caliber, depending on how you look at it. He’s won a billion gold gloves before. This season, the defensive metrics rate him very favorably, with only Zimmerman and Headley in the conversation (possibly) ahead of Rolen. So I think he’s in the conversation.

    Do I think Rolen will (or should) win the GG? No. Zimmerman should (a UVa guy like me, by the way!). But Rolen has been pretty good, despite the fact that his range has disappeared.

  11. BenL

    @Chad Dotson: Thanks Chad! I hope you get to come up here. You’ve probably been before, but in case you haven’t I’ll say that Citizen’s Bank Park is a great place to watch baseball… and despite my disparaging comment before, Phillies fans are generally knowledgeable and can be a lot of fun if your feathers don’t get ruffled too easily.

  12. Chad Dotson

    @BenL: Never been to CBP, but went to several games at The Vet (worst baseball stadium I ever saw; just a dump).

    Citizen’s Bank looks great.

    And has anyone else noticed this week that Phillies fans are much more pleasant than Cubs or Cardinals fans? I’m surprised.

  13. bho52

    @Chad Dotson: I’ve made one trip to CBP (last year) and was also pleasantly surprised with the fans. They were very accomodating and I didn’t get heckled at all (it may have been because they beat us 22-1 the night before).

    Still, the playoffs are a whole different animal

  14. bho52

    Stubbs laying down some bunts in BP, good to see