Phillies vs Reds (NLDS - round 1)

Who wins: Phils or Reds?

  • Fightin' Phils

  • Underdog Reds

  • Too close to call

Results are only viewable after voting.


Jun 22, 2001
Looks to be a David vs Goliath matchup with the Reds as heavy underdogs. While the Reds sport the best team batting average and most homers, they also played in the weakest of the 3 pitching divisions. They were also swept 4 games in July by the Phillies albeit 3 games went to extra innings. Can David knock off the Juggernaut Phillies?

Phillies are already the favorite to win it all:

The Phillies earned the right to pick the Division Series with the extra off day. So they head into this scrum knowing that they should be able to start Halladay, Oswalt or Hamels in 17 of a possible 19 postseason games. And that's not a promising development for the rest of the sport.

Oswalt lost his Phillies debut hours after hopping off the plane from Houston. But from that game on, through the day the Phillies clinched, he, Halladay and Hamels made 32 starts. The Phillies had a .781 winning percentage (25-7) in those starts.

Let's put that into perspective without the decimal points: A team that won at that rate over a 162-game season would finish 92 games over .500 (127-35). And remember, the Phillies figure to start that big three in all but two games in the entire postseason.

Courtesy of, let's look at the complete breakdown of the starting pitchers and position players:
Roy Halladay

You won’t get much of an argument if you claim that Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball right now. He’s a favorite to take home the National League Cy Young award — it would be the second of his great career — and should be in the discussion for the NL Most Valuable Player award as well.

What does Halladay do that leads to all that success? It’s simple, really. He has an above-average strikeout rate (7.9 K/9). He walks very few hitters (1.1 BB/9). He induces a lot of ground balls (51 percent). He handles both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He avoids three-ball counts (13 percent). When he falls behind in the count, he bounces back and gets outs anyway (65 percent). He throws a lot of strikes — in 92 percent of plate appearances this season, at least one of his first two pitches were strikes.

The Reds will be praying that the home plate umpire in Game One has a postage stamp strike zone.

Doc will face a right-handed-heavy Cincinnati lineup, which bodes well as his best pitch is a sinker that runs in on right-handers. He held right-handers to a .610 OPS, more than 70 points lower than their left-handed counterparts. But wait, there’s more! Joey Votto struggles (relatively speaking, of course) against ground ball pitchers. So does Jay Bruce. Four Reds ranked in the top-26 in the NL in fly ball percentage: Jonny Gomes (50 percent), Bruce (44 percent), Scott Rolen (44 percent), and Drew Stubbs (41 percent).

Roy Oswalt

Like Halladay, Oswalt strikes out a lot of hitters (8.2 K/9, a career-high) and walks few (2.3 BB/9). He differs from Halladay in that he relies more on a straight four-seam fastball and thus does not induce quite as many ground balls. Oswalt also has more of a traditional arsenal of pitches: four-seam fastball, change-up (with about a 10 MPH differential), slider, and curve. The problem is that his off-speed pitches don’t induce many swings-and-misses — this year, the whiff percentage is at 26 percent compared to the MLB average 30 percent. Oswalt will generate the majority of his whiffs on fastballs. And like Halladay, Oswalt is a strike thrower, going into a three-ball count in only 15 percent of plate appearances.

Oswalt is an ace on a majority of MLB teams. That he’s the #2 in Philly speaks volumes to how good the starting pitching is.

Cole Hamels

Hamels rebounded from a rough 2009 to have the best season of his Major League career. His strikeout rate skyrocketed, averaging a strikeout per inning. His walk rate also went up (2.6 BB/9) but it is still well below the MLB average (3.3 BB/9). Why the jump? Cole introduced a cut fastball to his repertoire, reducing the use of his other pitches – most importantly his change-up. Last year, change-ups represented 30 percent of his total pitches; this year, just 23 percent. While his cutter leaves a lot to be desired (especially against right-handers), it is another pitch for opposing hitters to keep in mind, making him noticeably tougher to gauge.

Hamels is the most fly ball-prone of the Phillies’ three aces, making him a good match for the Reds’ fly ball-prone, right-handed-heavy lineup. Since Hamels will pitch in Game Three, he’ll be in Cincinnati at Great American Ballpark. Needless to say, the park will not be aiding him. GAB has a park factor of 133 for right-handed hitters according to StatCorner.

Of the match-ups in this series, it appears that Game Three is the one the Phillies are most likely to lose.

Now, let’s take a look at the Reds’ hurlers.

Edinson Volquez

Volquez became a household name in 2008 when he finished with a 3.21 ERA and averaged 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings. The Reds believed he’d become a reliable member of the starting rotation for years to come, but injuries sidelined him early last season and he didn’t return until mid-July this year. He seems to have his stuff back but he still lacks command as his walk rate is up over five per nine innings. A patient team like the Phillies (fourth-best walk rate in the NL) will be able to work the count against Volquez and punish him for his inability to consistently find the strike zone.

Like Hamels, Volquez used to rely on a change-up but has used it less in favor of a new pitch — in this case, a curve. Volquez still uses the change-up 23 percent of the time and it has nearly 12 MPH of separation from his fastball, so the Phillies have their work cut out for them in this regard. He has also done well to induce ground balls — 54 percent in a small sample of innings.

Right now, Volquez is in the same class as pitchers like Jhoulys Chacin, Bud Norris, and Felipe Paulino. They can all miss bats with relative ease, but lack the control to become anything more than a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher.

Bronson Arroyo

Arroyo is one of those pitchers who seems to consistently beat the ERA retrodictors. Since 2004, Arroyo has underperformed his xFIP just once: in 2008, when his 4.77 ERA was well above his 4.12 xFIP. For most of those years, he had decent strikeout rates combined with good control, but in recent years he has missed fewer and fewer bats. His 5.1 K/9 this year is even with that of “Grandpa” Jamie Moyer! Unfortunately for opposing hitters, the drop in strikeouts didn’t lead to more failure as Arroyo’s BABIP in ’09 and ’10 was .270 and .246 respectively.

Arroyo’s calling card is his avoidance of the fastball — it made up only 39.5 percent of his pitches during the regular season. As he is not exactly a ground ball machine, one would think he would be a candidate for allowing home runs, but he only allowed more than one home run in six of his 33 starts. Moreover, Arroyo is a workhorse, pitching into the seventh in 20 of those 33 starts.

A pitcher who strikes out hitters as infrequently as Jamie Moyer shouldn’t finish a season with a 3.88 ERA, but Arroyo did. The charade can’t last forever, however. Arroyo has a chasm in his performance between right-handed and left-handed hitters: 210 points of OPS to be exact. The Phillies’ lefty-heavy lineup will attempt to fix what’s wrong by making Arroyo’s results match his performance.

Johnny Cueto

Although his ERA in 2008 approached 5.00, Reds fans saw a lot to like about Cueto in his rookie season. He averaged over eight strikeouts per nine and his walk rate hovered around the league average. Since then, though, Cueto has been unable to fan batters at the same rate, failing to hit the 7.0 K/9 threshold in each of the past two seasons. With a 93 MPH fastball and an 83 MPH change-up, it seems like strikeouts could come in bunches for the young right-hander. Perhaps he is too reliant on his slider, as it accounts for over one-fourth of his pitches.

Nonetheless, Cueto has been an average pitcher at best. In Game Three, Cueto will be praying to the BABIP gods to help deliver a gem.


Assuming Carlos Ruiz is healthy (he was hit by a pitch in yesterday afternoon’s regular season finale), he should catch every game of the playoffs. He had an exceptional offensive year, finishing with a near-.400 on-base percentage with decent power (.447 SLG). Ruiz is a very intelligent hitter, very aware of the ins and outs of hitting eighth in the batting order — he is content to take those unintentional-intentional walks. Aside from his great success at the plate in 2010, Ruiz is known for two other items: blocking pitches in the dirt and coming up huge in October (or, as it is more affectionately called in Philadelphia, Choochtober).

In mid-June, I analyzed Ruiz’s ability to prevent and punish his opponents’ running game, concluding that he is about average in that regard. However, Dan Turkenkopf of Beyond the Box Score found that Ruiz is among the best in the game at blocking pitches in the dirt. With pitchers like Jose Contreras (with the tumbling splitter) and Brad Lidge (slider), this is a critical skill necessary for survival late in games. Additionally, Ruiz is anecdotally highly regarded for his ability to call games and handle a pitching staff. Most pitchers who have passed through Philadelphia during Ruiz’s tenure have had nothing but great things to say about him.

The Reds have two catchers, Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan, that split time about 60/40 (as opposed to the 75/25 split between Ruiz and Brian Schneider). Hernandez and Hanigan are about equal with the bat, but Hanigan possesses much better plate discipline as he walks about five percent more often. Hanigan’s offensive capabilities are similar to Ruiz: high batting average, good on-base skills, occasional power. Hanigan’s platoon split is much wider than Hernandez’s: 182 points of OPS as opposed to 30 in favor of left-handed pitching.

As I don’t follow the Reds as closely as the Phillies, I can’t speak to any anecdotal evidence that Hernandez and Hanigan are comparable to Ruiz in terms of calling a game and handling a pitching staff. Hopefully some Reds fans and bloggers can stop by and provide some analysis there. But overall, I think the catchers are a push — neither side has a clear advantage here.

First Base

It’s the 2006 NL MVP against, possibly, the 2010 NL MVP.

Howard’s 2010 is a disappointment. Although he missed two weeks, his numbers would still be down nonetheless. His ISO declined 60 points from last season, a sign Phillies fans do not want to see. Late in games, opposing managers bring in left-handed relievers to throw him breaking pitches low and away and fastballs up. Howard has given in much more than he had in previous years — his swing rate at pitches outside the zone was six percent higher than his career average and his swing rate at pitches inside the zone was seven percent lower than his career average. Howard isn’t garbage against lefties but there is a definitive blueprint to neutralize him. Pitchers that adhere to that blueprint usually have success.

Joey Votto, meanwhile, appears to have no weakness. He hits left-handers and he hits right-handers. He hits four-seamers, sinkers, cutters, sliders, curves, change-ups, and splitters. He hits at home and he hits on the road. He hits early in games and he hits late in games.

He does appear to have one very minor flaw, though: he hits worse against ground ball pitchers. Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt both induce an above-average amount of ground balls: 51 and 49.5 percent, respectively. Additionally, Ryan Madson can be found at 50.5 percent and J.C. Romero — who should be called upon for this match-up several times — is over 60 percent.

Aside from having a lethal bat, Votto is an adequate fielder, receiving good marks from UZR. Howard, on the other hand, is graded as a sub-par fielder. However, the difference of about 7 UZR/150 between the two over their careers could be negligible given the uncertainty around the data.

The advantage clearly goes to the Reds.

Second Base

Chase Utley is clearly the best all-around second baseman in baseball. Over the last three years, he leads in both wOBA (.392, 19 points higher than the runner-up Dustin Pedroia) and UZR/150 (14.9, three points higher than runner-up Mark Ellis). In the same period of time, Brandon Phillips has a .333 wOBA and 8.8 UZR/150.

Utley is also a better base-stealer than Phillips. In 508 PA, Utley stole 13 bases in 15 attempts (87 percent). Phillips stole 16 in 28 attempts (57 percent). However, Phillips is better at advancing on the bases on balls put in play as shown by the metrics in the table below.
Base Advancement, via Baseball Prospectus
Chase Utley -0.3 0.9 0.0 1.1 -0.5 1.2
Brandon Phillips 1.5 -2.2 1.3 1.8 0.4 2.8

* GAR: Ground Advancement Runs
* SBR: Stolen Base Runs
* AAR: Air Advancement Runs
* HAR: Hit Advancement Runs
* OAR: Other Advancement Runs
* BRR: Base Running Runs (e.g. total)

As with first base, there is no debate which team has the advantage here, only this time the Phillies have the upper hand.

Third Base

Ah, finally a position with a closer race. Unfortunately, Placido Polanco is dealing with an elbow that will require surgery once the season is complete. Although he finished the season hitting .316 in the last ten games, he had only hit .235 since August 18. At one point he was a legitimate contender for the NL batting title, but his slump — likely due to his elbow — put the kibosh on that. Overall, he hits around the league average without much power.

Once believed to be the biggest question mark for the Phillies going into 2010, Polanco’s defense has surprised many. Critics, including myself, were unsure if he possessed the arm strength to succeed at the hot corner. He quickly squelched any concern in that area as his 10.6 UZR/150 indicates. (Insert another caveat about UZR’s unreliability within just one season.) He did receive a poor grade in terms of range, which is not surprising.

Scott Rolen, like Polanco, has had to deal with some aches and pains throughout the year. More recently, it’s been an amalgamation of issues but he should be healthy enough to contribute during the post-season. Along with beating Polly’s UZR/150 score (with much better range), Rolen finished with the second-best wOBA (.369) among NL third basemen, more than 40 points higher than Polanco.

Neither are base-running threats although Polanco is a perfect 5-for-5 on the year while Rolen is 1-for-3. The Reds get the advantage here — Rolen is simply better on all counts.


Although Jimmy Rollins spent half the season dealing with two calf strains and a thigh strain, his numbers had been in decline anyway. From 2004-08, his wOBA fell between .341 and .378. The last two years, it’s been .316 and .318 respectively. His power is way down this year — his .133 ISO is his lowest since 2003. He still managed to be efficient on the bases, stealing 17 bases in 18 attempts (94 percent). In 21 games between July 17 and August 20, he stole 12 bases in as many attempts. Since then, he’s attempted only three steals in 25 games. Rollins still received a good grade from UZR on all counts except avoiding errors — in nearly half the innings, he matched his errors total from last year with six.

The Reds have Orlando Cabrera, who is a rich man’s Wilson Valdez. In fact, Valdez put up a slightly better OPS this season and defended just as well. Cabrera is the one weak spot in the Reds’ lineup among the eight position players.

A healthy Rollins gives the Phillies a legitimate advantage here. Rollins at around 75% gives them a slight advantage.

Left Field

Rumors of Raul Ibanez‘s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Although he finished with his worst offensive showing since 2003, he wasn’t all that far away from his production in recent years. He lost a bit of power but has surged recently, hitting for a 1.051 OPS since September 6. With a platoon split of nearly 100 points of OPS in 2010, Dusty Baker may be more willing to leave Arthur Rhodes in to face Ibanez after dealing with Utley and Howard, meaning that Jayson Werth may get a few extra at-bats against southpaws. Defensively, Ibanez lacks range and has a mediocre arm, which comes as no surprise to Phillies fans.

Jonny Gomes is similar to Ibanez in a lot of ways. He is not as good in terms of plate discipline, but has a similar offensive output from the right side. Like Ibanez, he has a deep platoon split (nearly 140 points of OPS) with a disadvantage against right-handers. With only two left-handed hitters in the starting lineup, the Reds will likely have Rolen and Gomes hitting back-to-back. This becomes a very important part of the batting order for Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson.

Gomes is also terrible in the field, even worse than Ibanez. His career UZR/150 at any outfield position is -18. Slight advantage to the Phillies, more if they pepper left field with batted balls.

Right Field

Jayson Werth, a soon-to-be free agent, has been the Phillies’ most potent offensive weapon throughout the 2010 season. He finished with the sixth-best wOBA in the National League, trailing fifth-place Matt Holliday .398 to .396. Werth has exceptional plate discipline, consistently working deep counts. In each of the past two seasons, he led the NL in pitches per plate appearance with 4.5 in ’09 and 4.3 in ’10.

Throughout the season, though, Werth was dogged by criticism of his failure with runners in scoring position — particularly with two outs. Although he had better production in recent weeks in those situations, he still finished the season with lackluster numbers. Fortunately though, those numbers come in small sample sizes and are not indicative of his skill.

Surprisingly, Werth has a reverse platoon split — he hit better against right-handers than left-handers in 2010: .932 to .878 in terms of OPS. He’s also a base running threat, stealing 53 bases in 60 attempts (88 percent) since the start of the 2008 season.

Defensively, Werth hasn’t graded as well as he did last year but he still has one of the best outfield arms in baseball. While that may not make up for his odd routes to fly balls, it is definitely a factor that will stick in the mind of the Reds’ coaching staff and the base runners.

On the other side, the Reds have their own offensive threat in right field in Jay Bruce. He is no Werth but his .360 wOBA is certainly respectable. Like Werth, Bruce has a reverse platoon split of about 80 points in OPS. It’s a drastic improvement from 2009 when he had a .180 OPS platoon split favoring right-handers. Defensively, Bruce is regarded highly with an 11.4 UZR/150 in nearly 2,600 career defensive innings in right field.

Slight edge goes to the Phillies in right field.


* Catcher: Push
* First base: Reds
* Second base: Phillies
* Third base: Reds
* Shortstop: Phillies
* Left field: Phillies
* Center field: Push
* Right field: Phillies

My prediction is Phillies in 4.
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Aug 9, 2000
I like the Reds, but only b/c they have Arroyo ( I am a fan). He is a weird fella. His stats indicate that he is not a great pitcher, but he comes up big in some situations.


Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
Let's go Phillies! The Reds aren't a bad team - but I don't think the Phils are a team to be caught complacent.


Oct 9, 1999
i would not go that far. they do have some good players. namely jose reyes, david wright, angel pagan to name a few


Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
Wright is a great 3rd baseman. Reyes is extremely overrated - he's a poor man's Jimmy Rollins without any of the intangibles. You need a core of great players to win, not just good ones. Pagan is a keeper if he can keep up with what he did this year.

Basically, the great players on that team are Wright and Santana. With the payroll through the roof, I'm not sure that you don't trade both for blue chip prospects and start over.

It's a shame the wheels fell off John Maine - he was going in the right direction.


Golden Member
Oct 27, 2005
id love to see the reds win. But they are doomed to fail. Awesome August, Sour September, Obliterated in October.


Golden Member
Mar 7, 2001
Wright is a great 3rd baseman. Reyes is extremely overrated - he's a poor man's Jimmy Rollins without any of the intangibles. You need a core of great players to win, not just good ones. Pagan is a keeper if he can keep up with what he did this year.

Basically, the great players on that team are Wright and Santana. With the payroll through the roof, I'm not sure that you don't trade both for blue chip prospects and start over.

It's a shame the wheels fell off John Maine - he was going in the right direction.

Jimmy Rollins has no intangibles other than the years he roided to get an MVP, it's absolutely hilarious you'd call Reyes overrated when compared to Rollins. What exactly makes Rollins a great player?

Reyes has an edge in all the leadoff categories, avg, obp, sb. While Rollins has a slight HR edge, 41ab/hr compared to Reyes 52ab/hr. And I'm sure the little league stadium Rollins plays in helps that a little.

Poor man's Jimmy Rollins, what a joke.


Golden Member
Nov 5, 1999
10 mins to the game. Go Phillies! Even with Polanco out for the game we should win it.


Jun 22, 2001
The Reds are screwed now... even if they force a Game 5 they'll have to face Halladay again!


Platinum Member
Oct 21, 2002
Someone please tell the Reds allowing the opposing pitcher to pitch a no hitter and 1 walk away from a perfect game in the NLDS is not the way to win.

That being said, Go Reds.


Jun 22, 2001
I love how Orlando Cabrera was bitching about the strike zone after the game.



Clearly he's a moron, there were 2 inside balls called for Doc the entire game that were barely out of the zone or 1.9% (2/104). Hell, he even tried to help Cincy by calling a couple of those balls even further inside and some that were clearly outside for a strike.

Hirschbeck also missed 2 pitches in the zone for each team. OC can stfu now.
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