Part two of the Phillies’ three-part, ten-game road trip lands in Cincinnati for a three game set with the Reds. The Reds, surprisingly, are above .500 at 20-17. They’re slightly below average with both their offense and their pitching staff, while the Phillies are Jekyll and Hyde in that regard with the league’s best offense and the second-worst pitching staff.
The Phillies have the pleasure of facing the Reds’ best starters in Johnny Cueto (1.93 ERA), Micah Owings (3.95 ERA), and Aaron Harang (3.44 ERA). Joey Votto (168 OPS+) and Jay Bruce (104) are the only offensive players on the Reds who are above-average in OPS+.
Nothing about the Reds team stands out as particularly unique. Average offense, average pitching… they even run the bases at around the league average (24 SB; league average is 22).
Cole Hamels will pitch the opener for the Phils. Since returning from a bum ankle, he’s pitched 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA, has struck out 16 and walked only 3, and allowed just 10 hits, seven of which were singles. Maybe hurting that ankle helped! Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton will pitch the second and third games respectively, and both have been very underwhelming this season, but you couldn’t expect them to keep their 2008 magic bottled up going into 2009. They’re simply not that good.
The hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark should not make Moyer or Blanton feel any more comfortable about rebounding from their slow starts.
Anyhoo… time for numbers. Hitting:
It should be an interesting series, especially with Raul Ibanez hitting in another hitter-friendly park. He can continue on his current pace for 59 home runs. Yeah, that’s right: the guy who has never had an OPS of .900 or above is going to hit 59 home runs this season.