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NLDS Breakdown: Phillies and Reds have previous playoff history

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 Cincinnati Reds logo: http://metsreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Reds.gif

Philadelphia Phillies logo: http://www.wondergy.com/art/logos/phillies_logo.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies begin their quest to become three-time National League Champions. In order to advance to the NLCS, they need to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, who won the National League Central Division Title with a 91-71 record.

Let's start with some quick, end-of-season team comparisons. All numbers in brackets are the team's overall National League rankings.

ERA

Phillies 3.67 (5th)

Reds - 4.01 (8th)

 

Batting Average

Phillies: .260 (5th)

Reds: .272 (1st)

 

Fielding percentage

Phillies: .986 (5th)

Reds: .988 (2nd)

So, while the Phillies had the best record in the majors at 97-65, the Reds quietly put together a good season. It should be noted that the Reds played in a division that included the Pirates. Pittsburgh lost 105 games and matched the 1963 Mets with the most road losses (64) in history.

The Reds went 2-5 versus the Phillies in the regular season, and have the potential prevent, this dominant Phillies team from becoming a National League dynasty.

The Phillies are most likely in the midst of the greatest era in franchise history. It is astonishing to consider that they may become one of the best National League teams ever. Historic accomplishments can never be fully grasped as they are developing. However, every fan who experienced the pleasure of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn calling a game learned how to appreciate great moments as they happened.

History is something to appreciate and review for perspective. Let's go back to the last time these two teams faced off in the playoffs.

During the Bicentennial in 1976, the Cincinnati Reds (aka “The Big Red Machine")The Big Red Machine in 1976. L to R: George Foster, Ceasar Geronimo, Ken Griffey Sr.,Pete Rose, Dave Concepcion,Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench. Photo: pages.prodigy.net defended their World Series title by sweeping a young Phillies team in three games  to win the pennant. They then promptly swept the Yankees to win back-to-back World Series titles. The Reds remain the last National League team to accomplish that feat.

The “Big Red Machine” nickname was a compliment to their offensive production. Hall of Famers Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, and Johnny Bench were the team's centerpieces. And of course, Pete Rose should be there, but that's another story. Oddly enough, one of their most historically recognizable pitchers, Tom Seaver, was not part of either the 1975 or 1976 World Series winning pitching staffs. He was acquired from the Mets in 1977.

If the Phillies tame the 2010 Reds, they will arguably push past the 1970's Reds as one of the best National League teams of all-time. The 1940's St. Louis Cardinals probably hold that distinction. They won National League Pennants in 1942, 1943, and 1944 and then again in 1946. They won the World Series in 1942, 1944, and 1946.

 

 

 

 

Prior to that, the Cardinals also won the World Series in 1926, 1931, and 1934. Even if the Phillies win the World Series this year, they still will not have yet topped either of those Cardinals' eras. However, this season should not prove to be the Phillies last attempt at a championship.

Now back to 2010: 

Dusty Baker's  2010 Reds are a fastball hitting team. They may have the league MVP in first baseman Joey Votto  and feature other solid players who have hit 20 or more home runs (Larry Bowa's old pal Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce, and Drew Stubbs.) Stubbs is also fast, having swiped 30 bases. Second baseman Brandon Phillips  and left fielder Jonny Gomes complement the lineup, with Gomes' 86 RBI's ranking second behind Votto's 113. They also feature shortstop Orlando Cabrera, a veteran team leader and all-around good player.

There's no need to rehash the Phillies' offense. As of right now, they seem to be clicking. The biggest questions as far their lineup aside from whether they will hit consistently is where Charlie Manuel will bat Jimmy Rollins. Ideally, Rollins should be in the sixth or seventh hole right now to break up Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. There are still concerns about Rollins' health as well as Placido Polanco's. Carlos Ruiz appeared to have been injured after being plunked by Tim Hudson Sunday, but x-rays were negative.

The Reds plan to use three right handed starters. Strikeout pitcher Edinson Volquez will start game one against Roy “Cy” Halladay. Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto follow in games two and three against Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. The Reds starters form a good one-two-three punch. Good, but not great.

 In the bullpen, Francisco Cordero had a solid season with 40 saves. He leads a group that includes some pretty nasty left-handed relievers human-oddity Aroldis Chapman, who recently threw a 105 mph fastball, Arthur Rhodes, Bill Bray, and Travis Wood- who took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Phillies in July. A quality lefty is something the Phillies do not have, and with Votto ever coming to bat late in a close game, this could prove costly. The Phils bullpen core of Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson, and a rejuvanted Brad Lidge aren't anything to sneeze at. And it's just a bonus if Jose Contreras contributes.

Here is the Phillies' potential NLDS playoff roster, barring any injury replacements:The Phillies' offense isn't quite what it used to be, but their pitching should overcome any problems as long as the team is adequate at the plate.

Starters: Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Polanco, Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth.

Bench: Schneider, Gload, Sweeney, Valdez, Dobbs, Francisco, and Brown.

Starting Pitchers: Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels.

Bullpen: Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Contreras, Blanton, Romero, and Bastardo.

This projected roster leaves Kyle Kendrick out in favor of an extra lefty bat in either Dobbs, or Brown. Dobbs, while not as productive offensively this season, can play third base and pinch-hit. Brown has pop and creates chaos on the base paths. Kendrick could be added as a replacement arm in case of an injury.

Baseball is unpredictable, so here is a hunch:

Cincinnati might pull out one win, which seems to be a good bet for anyone other than Pete Rose, but I think the Phillies will win this in four. The Reds' offense is great, but not great enough to overcome the big three. The Phillies' offense isn't as good as the Reds,' but when you throw in their pitching, the balance shifts to the Phillies. Their offense usually shows up in the playoffs when it needs to. As long as they get to Cincinnati's starters early and they don't have to face that barrage of nasty lefties, the Phils will triumph.  If they win, the Phils would then move on to face the Giants or the Braves for the National League Pennant.

After college, Sean O'Brien worked in the front office for the Phillies former Triple-A team in Scranton.  He went on to write professionally during the next few decades and is currently a teacher in the great state of Pennsylvania.  He can often be seen, with a variety of family and friends, in one of Philadelphia's great sports stadiums.

You can contact Sean at seanboru68@yahoo.com