Everyone is writing off the Cincinnati Reds in their playoff series against the Philadelphia Phillies and I absolutely love it.
Honestly, if I had to bet my life, I’d take the Phillies to prevail in the best-of-five series. So, let’s get that out of the way right now.
How-eh-vuh, I fully think the Reds have a good chance to win three games and shock the baseball world. Not just a chance, a good one.
You know a manager like Dusty Baker is going to play up the fact that no one is giving the Reds any chance and that they are heavy underdogs despite winning 91 games this year. (And I can’t mention it enough: That’s the same number of regular-season victories as the 1990 World Champion Reds if you’re into omens. Or even if you’re not.)
So, the Reds are going to come in with nothing to lose and all the pressure is on the Phillies. Does Philly have the better team? Absolutely. But it’s not by a huge margin and anything can happen in a short series like this.
The Reds are no joke of a team and if the Phillies take them lightly things could get interesting real quick. What makes Philadelphia so dangerous is its starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Halladay will likely be the NL CY Young award winner, Oswalt has given the Reds fits throughout his career and Hamels would be the Reds’ ace if he pitched in Cincinnati. So, that’s a pretty big advantage when you consider the Phillies’ No. 3 starter would be the Reds’ No. 1.
I find it highly interesting that Baker decided to start Edinson Volquez in Game One against Halladay. Talk about unexpected decisions, but for some reason I like it. I’ve said all along Bronson Arroyo is a very solid starter, but is not even close to being an ace. (Although credit to him for winning 17 games this year and keeping his ERA under 4.) If the Reds have anyone on their team currently in the rotation that’s a potential ace, it’s probably Volquez. He has a lot of harnessing to do in terms of his control, but he still has electric stuff. I also think Aroldis Chapman has ace-like qualities, but he’s a reliever for now.
So, Arroyo will start Game Two and then Johnny Cueto will get the call for Game Three. I’d actually rather see Travis Wood than Cueto due to all the quality lefties the Phillies have in their lineup (and because Cueto didn’t pitch well down the stretch) but Cueto has been the Reds’ second-best starting pitcher this season overall, so I can see why Baker put him in the three-man rotation.
The Reds’ first playoff game in 15 years will start at exactly 5:07 p.m. EST on Wednesday and I absolutely can’t wait. Sure, Halladay could come out and throw a gem and put us all in a bad mood. But the Reds had some success against him earlier in the year and he’s not a guy with a lot of big-game experience. (Not that Volquez is by any means, but allow me to grasp for some straws here.)
So, I am picking the Phillies to win, but I feel the Reds have a solid shot at proving everyone wrong and moving on to the NLCS where they would face either the West champ San Francisco Giants or wildcard entry Atlanta Braves.