Well it’s October, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for playoff baseball. The teams have been decided, and from the NL it’s the Phillies, Braves, Reds and Giants. First round match-ups have been set, and the Phillies will first have to deal with defeating the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds. The Reds come into the series with a final regular season record of 91-71, a very good record, especially for a team that is in its first playoffs since 1995. As for the Phillies, they come into the series with the MLB’s best record, an incredible 97-65. The Phillies have the home field advantage in this series that starts on Wednesday. Now let’s get down to the preview.
Pitching: The Phillies come into the playoffs with almost undoubtedly the best three-man rotation in baseball. It consists of Cy Young front-runner Roy Halladay, mid-season acquisition Roy Oswalt , and Cole Hamels , who is having an incredible rebound year from his pitiful 2009 campaign. These three have an average of a great 2.41 ERA (Oswalt’s stats only include when he pitched for the Phillies) and all but Oswalt have a least ten wins with the team, 21 for Halladay, and 12 for Hamels. Even though Oswalt does not have ten wins he is 7-1 with the club. They will be opposed by a much less frightening Reds squad, which includes Bronson Arroyo , Edison Volquez and Johnny Cueto . Thought they are all formidable pitchers, none is spectacular, as the lowest ERA
of the bunch is Johnny Cueto with a 3.64 ERA. Of course, the Reds will be tough to stop if they have a lead late, as they have fire-balling rookie Aroldis Chapman, who has been clocked at 105.1 MPH, as their setup man. EDGE: Phillies
Offense: The Phillies go into this series with no injuries, something that has haunted them all season. They also come in with an offense that averaged a stunning 5.6 runs per game in their last 30 games, compared to a good but not nearly as impressive 4.2 runs by the Reds. Of course, the Phillies will have to deal with MVP candidate Joey Votto who led the Reds in home runs, RBIs, hits, and batting average among other things. However, the Phillies have speed, something the Reds are lacking. The Phillies have 18 more stolen bases, and 22 less time caught stealing. Not to mention they have much more depth, each of their starters (minus Jimmy Rollins due to injury) has at least 50 RBIs, something the Reds can’t quite match. Though, it will be close, I think the Phillie have the edge here. EDGE: Phillies
X-Factor: This series has two X-Factors. First, the Phillies are a remarkable 23-7 in their last 30, and easily the hottest team still playing baseball. Though the Reds have not done poorly as of late, they were only 15-15 in their last 30. Also, the Phillies will have home field advantage in a stadium that averaged more than 103% of their stadium’s capacity in their home games this year, an MLB best. Do not think this insane crowd will let the Reds walk into their house and win. EDGE: Phillies
Though each of the games may be close, this series should be won by the Phillie with ease. Even if the bats do not prove incredible, the pitching should prove just too much for the inexperienced Reds. Prediction: Phillies in 3