The Cincinnati Reds limp back to town after a 1-5 road trip to play host to the Philadelphia Phillies for the next three nights. Two of the matchups will get national exposure on ESPN (Monday) and ESPN2 (Wednesday.)

After starting the season 2-5, the Phillies have beat up on the Mets and Marlins to win 4 of their last 5 games. Their starting pitchers not names Cliff Lee had gotten roughed up their first time and a half through the rotation, but the Phillies pitching staff has held opponents to three runs or less in each of their last 5 games.

2013 W-L exW-L GB RS RA
Reds 5-7 7-5 2 65 59
Phillies 6-6 5-7 5 48 58


Philadelphia went into the offseason needing to replace their biggest losses from the prior year’s opening day roster: centerfielder (Shane Victorino) and 3rd base (Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton.) The front office addressed both gaps via trades, acquiring centerfielder Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins and third baseman Michael Young from the Texas Rangers.

Revere is a speedy, good glove/light bat centerfielder. Charlie Manuel has done what most managers do, sticking him and his low-.300 on-base percentage into the leadoff spot.

Michael Young was a perennial all-star until posting the worst offensive season of his career last year. Young is working to put last season behind him and has gotten off to a hot start with his new team.

The trades did cost the Phillies a good major league starting pitcher in Vance Worley. They replaced the young pitcher with Washington Nationals AAAA starting pitcher, John Lannan.

The Phillies also went into the offseason in need of bullpen arms. On the cheap end, they signed middle reliever Chad Durbin to a one year, $1.1M contract. On the costlier end, they signed Mike Adams to a 2-year/$12M Broxton-type contract to setup closer Jonathan Papelbon.


Ben Revere (L) CF 25 55 0.240 0.296 0.240 0.293 5/2
Jimmy Rollins (S) SS 34 50 0.261 0.320 0.435 0.314 3/0
Chase Utley (L) 2B 34 52 0.277 0.327 0.532 0.275 3/0
Ryan Howard (L) 1B 33 51 0.277 0.314 0.426 0.353 0/0
Michael Young (R) 3B 36 47 0.357 0.426 0.524 0.400 0/0
Domonic Brown (L) LF 25 48 0.244 0.292 0.400 0.265 0/0
John Mayberry (R) RF 29 26 0.286 0.423 0.571 0.385 0/1
Erik Kratz (R) C 33 39 0.184 0.179 0.316 0.207 0/0

The Phillies are banking on a number of bounce-back seasons from players this year. After missing 185 games the last three seasons, Chase Utley’s return to good health is key to the Phillies. He’s looked healthy and is hitting well so far in the first two weeks of 2013. Cleanup hitter Ryan Howard only appeared in 71 games last year and hasn’t had an OPS over .900 since 2009.

Michael Young didn’t miss any time with injury, but is coming off one of his worst offensive seasons of his career. Certainly, it was his worst in over a decade. While he’s off to a .950 OPS hot start with his new team, his walk percentage (10.6%, almost double his usual rate) and his BABIP (.400) suggest that he’s in for a drop in production soon. The Phillies just hope that it is not a drop all the way back to his 2012 offense.

Charlie Manuel is giving the top of his lineup the sign to steal with Revere, Rollins, and Utley combining for 11 steals.

Former Reds outfielder Laynce Nix (.273/.333/.545) has appeared in all but one game as a pinch hitter or platoon partner with John Mayberry. With all the Reds right handed starting pitchers, he’s also likely to get a start or two in this series.


  • Mon 7:10pm on ESPN: LHP Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.08 ERA, 2.91 xFIP, 0.60 WHIP)  vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 5.25 ERA, 3.97 xFIP, 1.25 WHIP)
  • Tues 7:10pm: RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 5.40 ERA, 3.92 xFIP, 1.714 WHIP)  vs. RHP Homer Bailey (1-1, 5.73 ERA, 4.96 xFIP, 1.55 WHIP)
  • Wed 7:10pm on ESPN2: LHP John Lannan (0-0, 2.77 ERA, 3.26 xFIP, 0.692 WHIP)  vs. RHP Mike Leake (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 5.26 xFIP, 1.83 WHIP)

While the first night’s matchup doesn’t appear to favor the Reds on paper, they are still missing two of Philadelphia’s top pitchers in this series. Arguably their best starting pitcher, Cliff Lee is #3 in the Phillies rotation. Bronson Arroyo will need to have his good stuff tonight.

Kyle Kendrick has been at the major league level with the organization for parts of 6 seasons and has pitched as a swingman the past two years. The organization is hoping that Kendrick can finally stick in the rotation and take his turn every 5th game all season long.

The matchup of #5 starters are the types of games that should provide a big advantage to the Reds this year. Jon Lannan is a classic innings eater, #5/6 type starter. After a couple of seasons in the majors, he spent most of last season with the Washington Nationals AAA farm team. With Leake, the Reds hope that he develops into something more than a #5 starter.

Jonathan Papelbon begins his second year with the Phillies and has been one of the most dominate closers in baseball the past 7 seasons. Former Reds prospect Jeremy Horst and newly acquired Mike Adams set him up from the left and right side, respectively. Left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo has yet to allow a run this season in 5 innings.

Phildelphia was a .500 club last year, and they are likely to finish near .500 this year. Many of the names on the backs of these Phillies jerseys may be the same names that beat the Reds in the 2010 playoffs, but this is an aging team that will be looking up in the standings at Washington and Atlanta all year long.

Join the conversation! 57 Comments

  1. I’m expecting a lot of runs to be scored.

    I would’ve loved to seen the Reds pick up Mike Adams. Already this year 5ip, 9k 1bb……..and for $9mil less than Broxton.

    Gheesh, what an overpay.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Most of that comes from the 3rd year though, right? Broxton was $21M over 3 years and Adams was $12 over 2 years? Just a million more per year for 2013 and 2014. I agree that the guaranteed 3rd year to Broxton was overpay.

  2. Thanks for the tv heads up… I don’t get to see them much without any extra packages, so love the ESPN games. Otherwise, it’s me hating on Brantley!

  3. I’m hoping to see Good Bronson for seven strong this evening, followed by Lecure and Chapman. I am strangely optimistic about all of this. It must have been the Votto bomb at the end of yesterday’s game. Perhaps that one swing of the bat portends what is to come.

  4. I want to be optimistic.. but when the Reds get swept by the Pirates, it’s hard to imagine too many teams that’d be easier to try to beat than the one without a winning season in two decades.

  5. This is a nightmare matchup for Arroyo. He has been terrible against lefties in his career and the Phillies lineup is stacked with them.

    If we can get 6 ip and 4 runs from Arroyo, the Reds have a shot, although Cliff Lee has killed the Reds in the past.

  6. Tonight will be tough as Red Forever mentioned, but the Reds have had some good days against Lee when he was at cleveland too.

    After last week, I would be happy with taking two of three. Phillies bats have bugun to wakeup and could do very well in GABP.

  7. I am afraid that this may not be the only series where Chapman is no factor.

    What a waste to have a guy with his talent sit on the bench.

    This is a refreshing attitude:

    “I like starting,” Cingrani said, “I like relieving, I like pitching.”

    Put me in coach. I like that a lot better than I will only pitch the 9th inning. I hope for much success to Cingrani and that he is the left hander who replaces Leake when Cueto returns.

    Our ballpark is to small for Leake. He may need to be a San Diego pitcher.

    • @reaganspad: To be fair, Cingrani was in the minor leagues, making minor league money. Minor league contract v. MLB contract–let’s just say that he has an added incentive to get on the MLB roster…

      Chapman was likely asked a direct question and gave his honest answer. Players aren’t paid to think about maximizing their value to the team. Can’t fault a guy for stating his preference. It’s not like he demanded to be a Closer.

      • @CP:

        Or in Chapman’s case, maximizing value to one’s self.

        I would really like to see Cingrani come in and win 14 games and become the talk of the staff. And have Chapman lose the limelight.

        I would love Chapman feel “that should have been my rotation spot”

  8. Who is announcing the game on ESPN?

    Please tell me Kruk isn’t on the crew. He makes Brantley look like a Ford Frick winner. My television will commit seppuku in protest.

  9. Here’s a new post at FanGraphs about Tony Cingrani. It’s just one person’s opinion, but interesting to read as well as the comments. Doug Gray adds a few of his well informed thoughts in the comment section as well. Cingrani as a temporary replacement for Cueto may work. Beyond that, it’s tough to tell how well his stuff will translate from the minors to the majors over a period of time.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I don’t think anyone has a clue how he’s going to do. The scouts are all over the place. The data is almost unbelievable.

      I think the Reds should have slipped him ahead of Mike Leake given all the lefties in the Phillies lineup, though perhaps Cingrani doesn’t have a huge split against lefties/righties given the types of pitches he throws. But the Marlins are a heckuva team for him to face in his first start. He’ll go from facing AAA hitters in Toledo, to facing AAA+ hitters.

  10. One of the interesting match ups in this series is cliff lee and his microscopic walk rate vs. Joey Votto and his enormous base on balls skills. Lee is not the guy to pitch around Votto.

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      Joey Votto is not the guy who you want to throw pitches over the plate to. Maybe a big night for Joey tonight. I’ll go out bold and predict he homers again tonight. He has all this pent up rage at Dusty’s insane mismanagement of the bullpen.

  11. “The matchup of #5 starters are the types of games that should provide a big advantage to the Reds this year.”
    I was actually thinking the opposite. Seems like Leake is going to have to start pitching a lot better than he has been for over a year for that statement to be true.
    Some hits off Cliff Lee tonight could go a long way towards getting the ship righted. Let’s go Reds!

    • @jbemis44: “Seems like Leake is going to have to start pitching a lot better than he has been for over a year for that statement to be true.”

      I agree. My statement was based as much as what I thought Leake’s numbers would be by the end of the season. IMO, Leake matches up more like a Kyle Kendrick, who I think a lot of teams have to settle with as their #4 guy…number 3 in a bad rotation. While the Phillies have a AAAA guy in their #5 spot. Maybe Leake proves me wrong and is eventually a #6 starter himself, but I think there is still a (good) chance that he can carve out a Bronson Arroyo type career…or at least a 3-5 year window where he pitches like that.

      • @Greg Dafler: Yeah, I’m with you. I like Leake and I think you’re right about his chances to become a very solid starter. I wonder about his confidence this year given that a lot of people didn’t want him starting at all, and also they way they used him in game 4 against the giants last year, leaving him in to try to eat up innings, and then leaving Arredondo in until it was out of reach, it kind of felt like they thought they were conceding the game from the start. Anyway, that’s a bit of a stretch and I don’t mean to bring up bad memories, we’re agreed. Thanks for the response.

  12. Can’t wait to see the lineups when they post. The longer this loosing steak goes on, the more it gets in my head.

    Fantastic to see Joey launch one yesterday and to know now that he is capable. Never really doubted it but seeing is believing.

  13. Cliff Lee doesn’t walk any batters. He has 0 BB’s this year. Joey Votto has 20 BB’s already this season. The Lee vs. Votto matchups will be interesting tonight.
    Jay Bruce leads the World in K’s. Don’t think there will be much intrigue vs. Lee for Bruce.

  14. Justin Freeman being temporarily called up means the Reds officially have an 8-man bullpen. Dusty Baker has been dreaming of this scenario for years.

    It would be pretty difficult to mismanage 8 men, but I believe Dusty is up to the challenge.

    • @CP: Justin Freeman leads into the interesting question of who gets sent out on Thursday to make room for Cingrani? Freeman as the newcomer or somebody else?

      • @RFM: Freeman is gone unless someone like Lecure can’t make it. I won’t be surprised if Freeman doesn’t even get into a game, unless it’s a blowout.

    • @CP: Heard any updates on Sam LeCure’s status?

    • @CP: If LeCure is available. He’s been unavailable the past couple of days.

  15. It’s kinda unfortunate that the Reds miss Roy Halladay after his horrendous start.

    It sounds like Sam LeCure is available to pitch tonight.

    I wonder if being back home will help the Reds to hit like they did off the Angels and Nationals.

  16. Today’s lineup, per

    1. Shin-Soo Choo (L) CF
    2. Zack Cozart (R) SS
    3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
    4. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
    5. Jay Bruce (L) RF
    6. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
    7. Chris Heisey (R) LF
    8. Ryan Hanigan (R) C
    9. Bronson Arroyo (R) P

  17. John Lannan is a better pitcher than Mike Leake.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: @Hank Aarons Teammate: Very debatable.

      Certainly, I wouldn’t call Mike Leake a “big advantage” over John Lannan. Their peripherals are both pretty meh. They’re both above average #5 starters, though I’d give the nod to Leake. Not by much. But his peripherals are better. You put Leake in DC, things are looking up.

  18. My unbridled optimism for this season before it started and a week ago is only matched by my despair today as it seems like everything is going wrong for the Reds. I feel like Dusty is secretly some double agent sent to torture Reds fans.

    I’m better at handling these losing streaks in the middle of the year when I’m more conditioned. I can’t do it right now. I’m a wreck.

  19. I don’t give Bronson much hope against Philly tonight. The Phillies will put use at least 5 lefties against him, and over the past 3 years, he has given up 16 earned runs in 16 innings against the Phillies. Bronson was much improved last year against lefties, but still yielded an OPS of .152 higher v lefties. He struck out only 51 guys in 437 PAs against lefties, or a bit better than 1 in 9. (In 2011, Arroyo was epically horrible against lefties, yielding a slugging percentage of .611. Barry Bonds had a career slugging percentage of .607, so Arroyo pretty much turned the league-average lefty into Barry Bonds.)

    At least the Reds miss Hamels this series.

    • @Big Ed: I didn’t give the Pirates much of a chance against Cueto or Latos. Weird things happen. Like Cliff Lee losing to Bronson Arroyo.

  20. Can someone explain why they didn’t put Ludwick on the 60-day disabled list before today? Or perhaps, why they chose to finally do so today, and how that makes sense now when it didn’t make sense then?

    • @walshjp: I think it is simply because they didn’t need a spot on the 40-man roster. The Reds and other teams don’t move players to the 60-man roster unless they need the roster spot.

  21. Expectation going into this season: Our excellent starting pitching would win us many games and our bullpen would close those games out OR in cases where our starting pitching wasn’t top notch, our bullpen would keep us in games to allow comebacks

    Reality: Our starting pitching has been OK (trading Chapman’s spot for Leake was a significant downgrade) AND in games where starting pitching has been good our bullpen has been shaky to awful

    And it all boils down to who pitches. Instead of Chapman we have Leake. Instead of Marshall, Broxton, Chapman we’re getting heavy doses of Hoover, Ondrusek, and Simon. It’s fine if Dusty doesn’t understand/support sabermetrics, but for God’s sake he should understand amount of playing time!

    • It’s fine if Dusty doesn’t understand/support sabermetrics, but for God’s sake he should understand amount of playing time!

      @CincyGuy: I think it is high time for Walt to call for an intervention. They have to find out what is going on inside Dusty’s head and get it the he11 out of there.

  22. Hopefully the Cingrani callup is the first move in a retooling of the pitching staff. In my ideal world, Cingrani would start half the season and transition to the setup role in the bullpen.


    LeCure–6th/7th inning bridge guy
    Leake–long man

  23. Not being flippant here but is Dusty even putting any effort into his job? Same basic lineup game after game after game. Finally able to get Cozart back in the two hole so he doesn’t have to deal with thinking about it anymore? Why in heaven’s name do you put the worst OBP guy, on the roster, batting second? Relievers same roles no matter what. Does he not realize how awful this team has looked for the last week? He has this team on autopilot headed straight for an iceberg and he appears to be absolutely oblivious.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Based on a huge sample size of four plate appearances, Cozart has “relative” success against Lee.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: If anything I’m surprised that the lineup has been changed. Heisey isn’t hitting second anymore (which I’m happy about). Dusty has shown a willingness to bat Xavier Paul second in a game against the Nationals, and we might see that again tomorrow against Kendrick. Todd Frazier even finally got a chance to hit cleanup when Phillips was away. The lineup isn’t on auto-pilot, it’s been changing from day to day.

      Cozart is 1/3 against Lee, sure it’s a small sample size – one game – but I think it’s still worth taking into consideration (rather than roll your eyes at it), as is his success hitting #2 last year.

      • @RFM: The changes I’m talking about would be:
        1) Batting the best five hitters 1 through 5
        2) Not continually batting the worst OBP guys in the two hole
        3) Maybe even doing something nutty like hitting the 2 “highest “OBP” guys 1-2 in the order
        4) While Hanigan is struggling so mightily, give Mes more opportunities
        5) Maybe even give XP a couple of starts a week
        6) If and when Mes gets a start, hit Cozart eighth
        7) Nothing against Zack but having Choo & Votto hit 1&2 in the order should provide an incredible amount of run producing opportunities for BP, Jay, & Frazier. Maybe Cozart can keep up a .360 OBP pace but he will never match Choo & Votto. Can you imagine how much better Choo could produce with Votto behind him?

        These are the kinda of changes I’m alluding to. Not trimming around the edges.

      • @RFM: Four AB are not worth taking into account. It’s counterproductive to even look at statistics like that due to the risk that you might put even a shred of importance on them. Studies have shown that even much more substantial records of batter-on-pitcher results are completely non-predictive. This is a terrible, horrible practice that should not be used by major league managers (even though ours does).

        What was the single? A ground ball, line drive, bunt? What were the outs, fly-balls, weak grounders, hard hit line drives just at fielders, what? The overall statistic is completely pointless. Not to mention that Cozart and Lee are different players now. And the sample size of four is preposterously small.

      • @RFM: Giving Dusty Baker credit for “changing” the lineup on a night that Brandon Phillips was UNAVAILABLE seems like a pretty low bar, don’t you? We’re supposed to feel good that Baker didn’t go ahead an write Phillips name in the slot and then look around surprised when he didn’t come up to bat?

        • @Steve Mancuso: When Brandon Phillips was out asking Frazier to hit cleanup was NOT the only option. Particularly he could have asked Bruce to hit cleanup, which I’ve always been opposed to. Or done something crazy like asked the LF to do it.

          I thought Dusty being willing to write Todd Frazier’s name into the cleanup spot was a step in the right direction, and possibly a sign of things to come if Phillips goes into a slump. If you perceived it another way, so be it. He’s shown a willingness to bat Frazier after Votto, like he’s recently shown a willingness to bat Xavier Paul between Choo and Votto. Steps in the right direction.

  24. Last night I dreamed that the Reds fired Dusty Baker, no joke. It was a little disappointing when I woke up from that one!

  25. I just love reading the previews of the teams here before the series starts. Gives me some good insight on teams I haven’t seen much this season. One of the things that I’m always drawn to is the pitching matchups. I usually scan that before looking at the rest of the article. Today was a little different. It will just take us reeling off a few in a row for me to really care who is matching up with whom (fyi: the ‘who’ and ‘whom’ thing has always confused me, so I use both and totally screw it up.). Is Arredondo dead? I’d rather see him as a lefty specialist in the pen than Parra.

  26. John Lannan shows how little value Mike Leake has. Lannan is (CP debates me, I know) better than Leake. Not by much, but looking at his stats, I like him a tad better. And, I also don’t like the direction of Leake’s career.

    All that said, let’s call them even. Lannan makes 2.5M this year. A #5 starter just isn’t very valuable.

    Leake isn’t going to bring anything significant in return, if they were to try to trade him.

Comments are closed.


2013 Reds, Series Preview


, ,