October 2, 2023

Finding the track—Series Preview: Phillies at Reds, August 15 – 17


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After game one, the vibes hadn’t been as good since the Phillies clinched a spot in the 2011 playoffs. But in this case, we didn’t clinch anything. In the likeliest of scenarios, games against the Mets will be statistically irrelevant when they run away with the National League East.

But for these Phillies, it didn’t matter. All they wanted to do was prove that they weren’t the Phillies from April. They weren’t the Phillies from 2021. They weren’t the rebuilding 2016 Phillies, either. They wanted to prove they were the Rob-Thomson-era Phillies.

And they did. They beat Sandy Alcantara and Max Scherzer.

As fans celebrated their team’s victory over one of the game’s best, the Phillies kept on going. Unfortunately, small shadows of their other recent teams were cast across the dirt infield in Flushing to end the series.

Balls were bobbled, and bats went quiet. Zack Wheeler struggled, and Aaron Nola threw a complete-game loss; these are two things you rarely see when you tune into a Phillies game.

Their moment was flushed.

Luckily, the Phillies have a chance to reclaim their momentum as they prepare for a three-game set in Cincinnati.

Expectations for the 2022 Reds were not high, but they got off to a historically bad start and have not gotten back on track since. The Reds, led by veteran Joey Votto and 25-year-old Jonathan India, have gotten even worse since trading Luis Castillo and Brandon Drury at the trade deadline.

While the Reds have a highly-anticipated solid group of young players at the major league level, almost all of them are injured. Tyler Stephenson has a .823 OPS in his short career but is on the shelf with a broken clavicle. Flame-throwing rookie Hunter Greene and former top prospect Nick Senzel are also sidelined. Senzel is day-to-day, but Greene is on the 15-day IL, so the Phillies will not see Greene until 2023. Mike Moustakas, the World Series hero brought in by the Reds’ front office to be their star player, is also on the injured list.

Here are five things to note as the Phillies are set to face the 45-68 Reds for a midweek series:

A good place for a struggling offense

Great American Ballpark, the home of the Reds, is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the major leagues. J.T. Realmuto will be looking to get back on track after a hitless series in New York, and lucky for him, the left-field wall in Cincinnati is only 328 feet away from home plate. Left-handed power hitters like Darick Hall and Kyle Schwarber have more of an advantage with the right-field wall being only 325 feet away.

Schwarber, though, will not be in the lineup for game one of this series. A mild calf strain has had him sidelined since the beginning of the Mets series, and he has been listed as day-to-day since. He was a pinch hitter in game two but was subbed out when the Phillies were set to take the field in the bottom half of the inning he hit.

A series for the right-handed hitters

Matt Vierling and J.T. Realmuto combined for three hits in 35 at-bats in the series in New York. A righty-heavy pitching staff overpowered the Philly trio with their fastballs, and the Phillies were embarrassed in the final two games of the series.

But this time around, the Phillies will face two left-handed pitchers, giving the Phillies’ offense a chance for redemption.

Mike Minor, game one’s starter, has a 6.24 ERA in 2022. Right-handed hitters are hitting .306 against him, and Nick Lodolo—the starter in game three—is allowing a .289 average against righties.

Needless to say, this should make it easy for a lot of the sluggers in the Phillies lineup to find success. But Lodolo, specifically, has good stuff and gets a lot of swings and misses, so game three could be a challenge that the Phillies don’t have on their radar.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Noah Syndergaard (RHP, 6-8, 3.96 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (LHP, 1-9, 6.24 ERA)

Game 2: Kyle Gibson (RHP, 7-5, 4.29 ERA) vs. T.J. Zuech (RHP, 0-1, 4 IP, 6 ER)

Game 3: Ranger Suarez (LHP, 8-5, 3.52 ERA) vs. Nick Lodolo (LHP, 3-4, 4.72 ERA)

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 67
  • Reds: -111
  • Runs Scored Per Game
  • Phillies: 4.61
  • Reds: 4.23
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.03
  • Reds: 5.21

Game times and broadcasts

  • Monday, August 15, at 6:40pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Tuesday, August 16, at 6:40pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Wednesday, August 17, at 12:35pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP

Game coverage will be available on Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter.

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