Roy Halladay (6-7, 3.80 ERA)
The surface level stats for Doc and challenger Leake are sadly comparable, except for “Number of Baseballs Crushed in Bare Hand as a Result of Terrifying Rage.”
But, again, Doc is in the middle of returning to form. I assume we’ll be made aware when he reaches his actual form again, but it seems like this storyline is supposed to be stretched a bit thinner, so what the hell. Sporting a 2-2 record i his last four starts, Doc looked ripe in his last outing, even though he got tagged for the loss.
His track record against the Reds should only be more reason to think he will keep up this momentum and use it to splatter the Reds into the wall.
Mike Leake (5-7, 4.29 ERA)
Leake sounds positively Kendrickian in his performances; blowing several, then coming out last time and throwing a complete game five-hitter against the Mets. Apparently he’s one of those weird pitchers you can’t just judge based on his statistics, which are bad; though he does have 12 quality starts, which most people and Reds manager Dusty Baker agree don’t matter at all if you lose the game.
The only Reds starts with more than nine at-bats against Doc are Brandon Phillips (18) and Jay Bruce (17), both of whom have more than survived their encounters, hitting .278 and .294 against him, respectfully and probably far lower numbers disrespectfully. But other than that, playing the Phillies is generally considered horrible news in the Reds clubhouse–they’ve lost 15 of the last 19 games they’ve played in our fair city.
In fact, there aren’t a whole lot of numbers that give the Reds pause for this series, other than their stellar road record. Last year, Halladay was undefeated against Cincinnati with an ERA under 2.00. The year before, he smeared them across game one of the NLDS. Obviously, situations have changed; the Reds are now the oppressive war machine moving swiftly toward the post season while the Phillies just sort of lie there and flail about until somebody smothers them.
The Reds are without Joey Votto, which hasn’t seemed to matter with Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick stepping in. The Phillies are without a stable lineup, which some would argue is “way worse,” especially if Michael Martinez is in it, despite his recent home run. Never feels like they should count when he hits them. It seems like that’s more of a skill for the pitcher to toss a ball that even Michael Martinez could get out of the infield.
Ryan Howard’s batting average going into this four-game series has just skyrocketed 33 points to a nice, even .246, and Chase Utley is not a historic Red-killer so the opportunity could be taken for him to see some off time. We all know how much he would love that.