So here we are in the city of brotherly love. The birthplace of Rocky Balboa. The home of the Broad Street Bullies! The Cincinnati Reds, however, are not facing an opponent that strikes fear into the heart of adversaries as they once did. I’m afraid that not even Eye Of The Tiger, or Burgess Meredith could convince this Philly team to fight. Although, seeing Charlie Manuel perform Meredith’s “Penguin” would be worth the price of admission along, the match ups this weekend have Cingrani facing Lee on Friday night, Arroyo squares up against Kyle Kendrick on Saturday at 4:05 EST, and then the finale will pit Batman against Pettibone with a scheduled 1:35 EST first pitch.
Friday nights game sees Cliff Lee take the hill for the Phils, and if we can rewind to April 15th, it was the Monday night game where Lee posted a respectable line of 7 ip, gave up 5 hits and allowed 2 ER. But the biggest moment that may stand out from his previous start against the Reds, was the walk that Jay Bruce(!) drew after the Reds notorious “Wild Pitch” offence pushed Votto across the plate. Lee has been effective against the Reds in his career, but with an ERA approaching 4, he’s also liable to give up a few runs to Cincinnati. Factor in that he’s also given up ten runs in 20 innings of work at home this year, and suddenly scoring 3-4 off of Cliff doesn’t seem like much of a stretch in the “hitter friendly” Citizens Bank Park. Interesting matchup to consider against Cliff Lee within the Reds lineup; Cozart is hitting .333 for his career against Philadelphia. Meanwhile, BRUUUUUUUCE! has absolutely raked the Phils pitching staffs over the years with an OPS nearing 1.000 and ten funkblasts in fewer than 150 AB’s.
This could, finally, actually, legitimately be the series that Bruce finds his power stroke. He has absolutely demolished the Phillies throughout his career, and I expect nothing less than a replay of that history this weekend against the pitching staff at CBP.
On the flip side Cingrani hasn’t faced the Phillies yet, but beyond Mayberry and Brown who hit left handed starters extraordinarily well, so long as Tony “Bunches Of K’s” can get ahead of their hitters early, the 2013 Phils are notoriously prone to striking out. None more so than Ryan Howard who also happens to be hitting a measly .190 against lefties this season, and only .260 for his career against the Reds. For performances from the Dark Side, I expect that Brown and Utley will do the majority of the damage, if any against the Reds starters this weekend. Arroyo sports an ERA of an even six in his career against the Phils, so if there’s a game that the Reds drop in this series, I personally expect it to be Bronson. Then again, he has had a string of decent starts, and Dusty also appears to have realized just how quick the hook must be when BronsOFF makes his sixth inning appearance. Coming off back to back sweeps against both the Fish and the Brew Crew, I certainly don’t see a third straight sweep, but posting a 2-1 record, and a 5-1 start to this road trip is a most welcome sight. And for those of us that were stressed over the previous months inability to win a game on the road, remain calm. If you’re still worried, the Mets are on the horizon, and a road trip that goes 7-2, by my logic anyway, is a pretty successful one.
TL;DR version of this series preview? Just like the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970’s, this current lineup for Philly looks an awful lot like Bobby Clarke