Friday, May 26, 2017

Series Preview: Floundering Phillies set to host Reds at CBP

Philadelphia Phillies welcome the Reds to Citizens Bank Park.
The Philadelphia Phillies avoided a series sweep Thursday with a 2-1 extra-inning win over Colorado at Citizens Bank Park. Bumbling in the midst of a 4-20 stretch, the Phillies have the worst record in baseball and welcome the Cincinnati Reds for a weekend series.

“Today was a good step in the right direction,” said first baseman Tommy Joseph, who had a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning Thursday and provided the game-winning hit in the 11th. “Winning helps with a positive environment, and looking forward to building on it.”

The Phillies last won back-to-back games on April 26th and 27th,

"It's a tough stretch, no doubt," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "I believe though that we are a better team than our record indicates. We just need some things to go our way."

Pitching Matchups
Friday: RHP Tim Adleman (2-2, 6.19) vs. Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.52)
Saturday: RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75) vs. RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70)
Sunday: RHP Scott Feldman (4-4, 3.99) vs. RHP Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.36)


All About the Reds
I reached out to writer Jordan Barhorst (@JordanBarhorst) of Redleg Nation to get his take on how things are going with the Reds.

What's the main story line right now with the Reds? 
I'd say the story of the year for the Reds is just how little impact rookies have been having on the overall team. 2017 was supposed to be a year of sorting out who's going to be on the next good Reds team, but the only "prospects" that have made their first appearances for the team so far this year are Amir Garrett and Rookie Davis, who probably wasn't considered a prospect prior to Spring Training.

Instead, guys like Scott Schebler, Zack Cozart, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Feldman, and others who either aren't in the Reds plans going forward, or weren't supposed to be, are getting regular playing time. While that's resulting in more wins for the team in 2017, and even though I hate the idea of tanking, it's only bringing the Reds closer to the middle of the pack. If its anything both of these teams should be well aware of, it's that finishing with a record around .500 is probably the worst spot to finish the year in.

We'll see as the year goes on which rookies will make their debuts for the Reds. If the team wants to stay on track for their '18/'19 resurgence, the debuts will need to pick up the pace.

Billy Hamilton - speed yes, patience no

Hamilton has certainly been a polarizing figure over the past few years. There's no denying that he belongs on the team - his defense and baserunning make him consistently well above replacement level, but in the years past, his offense has left us wondering "When?".

Well, that time seems to be coming around. Billy hasn't been a world beater at the plate, but he finished last season with a .321 OBP, which is right at league average. He started out this season very slowly, but has gotten back on track as of late, and is now up to a .311 OBP. It's obvious when watching games just how dangerous Billy Hamilton can be if he can get on base at a league average clip. He instantly becomes one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, and has the potential to be one of the most valuable overall players.

Reds starting pitching
Fun fact: if hitters hit off of pitching machines in games, the Reds would be the best team in baseball. They're the only team to have amassed 10 fWAR so far on the season, lead mostly by their stellar defense which is far and away the best in baseball so far. Add that to a top 10 offense, and you've got yourself a hell of a team, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately for the Reds, there are grown men throwing them baseballs much faster and much harder to hit than pitching machines. The fact that the Reds also have to have guys throw to other teams is also unfortunate, as Cincinnati's pitchers are either at or near the bottom of the league in every pitching metric.

As I alluded to earlier, most of the starting pitching struggles have been related to injury. For the past few years, the Reds just haven't been able to keep their top line pitchers on the mound. When you have guys like Lisalverto Bonilla and Asher Wojciechowski (an actual player's name) are rounding out your starting rotation, it's easy to see why the team's pitching has been so bad.

Health seems to be just around the corner, however. Guys like Bailey, DeSclafani, and Finnegan are bonafide rotation candidates that will surely bolster the production, and they're all scheduled to return sometime around June or July. Whether that actually comes to fruition remains to be seen, but if it does, I expect the Reds to be well over .500 in the second half of the season.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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