Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphians must be thrilled that the Cincinnati Reds don’t call the American League home. Having just completed a brutal stretch against the Junior Circuit – losing six consecutive games to the Blue Jays and Angels – the Phillies won’t have to play an interleague game until the dog days of August.
The Phillies fell to 1-8 against the American League. Over the last 10 games, the Phillies have lost in every way imaginable – lack of offense, shoddy defense, inconsistent starting pitching and subpar relief pitching.
Those terms can be used to describe the Phillies of the past two years – but it has been especially magnified over the past two weeks.
The biggest surprise has been the Phillies’ aging core – Utley, Rollins, Ruiz and Howard have been surprisingly productive. It’s the younger players that, so far, have fallen well below expectations.
Only the Diamondbacks and Astros have a worse run-differential than the Phillies. Phillies’ hitters seem to have better success against hard throwers – two of which they will face in the first two games of the weekend series.
The Phillies will need to find a way to string hits together against the Reds starting rotation. They manage to get runners on base and then let them die on the bases because of the lack of timely hitting. The starting pitching, especially Kyle Kendrick, needs to be more consistent. The bullpen, which has been a sore spot all season, needs to tighten things up if the Phillies expect to sustain any kind of success this season.
The Reds enter the series as one the more disappointing teams in the National League. The starting pitching has been their bright light, led by Johnny Cueto. The bullpen and lineup have been beset by injuries and inconsistency.
The injuries have been to many of their star players. Closer Aroldis Chapman just recently returned from a horrific line drive to the face. First baseman Joey Votto has been hampered by a bad knee/quad. Outfielder Jay Bruce is recovering from left knee surgery. Starting pitchers Mat Latos and Tony Cingrani are on the shelf, as well.
Friday, May 16 (7:05 PM)
CIN: Alfredo Simon, RHP (4-2, 2.89 ERA)
PHI: Kyle Kendrick, RHP (0-3, 3.98 ERA)
Saturday, May 17 (7:05 PM)
CIN: Homer Bailey, RHP (3-2, 4.72 ERA)
PHI: Cole Hamels, LHP (0-2, 5.32 ERA)
Sunday, May 18 (1:35 PM)
PHI: Cliff Lee, LHP (3-4, 3.23 ERA)
Ideally, this would be the series for the Phillies to get well in a hurry. The Reds are a struggling, inconsistent team that has been decimated by injuries. Plus, the Phillies will miss Cueto this time around. Realistically, nobody would be surprised, at this point, if the Reds came into Citizens Bank Park and swept the series. It’s the middle of May, time is of the essence for the Phillies to start playing some consistent baseball.