Ten years from now, when New Jersey is under water and I'm waiting tables at the new beach-front TGI Friday's on Delaware Avenue, I'll be working on a book titled, "Ten Strategies For Posting on a Blog During an Uncertain Playoff Race."
Right now, Chapter 5 is tentatively titled, "Post It Before It Becomes Irrelevant."
And on that note, let's take a look at the potential pitching match-ups for the potential National League Division Series between the Phillies and the Reds. At this point, it is all potential, because the Braves are actually in the process of writing their own how-to book on the art of squandering a sure-fire postseason berth. But for the sake of the argument, and for the sake of all of the time I have spent on Baseball-Reference.com over the past 24 hours, let's assume that Atlanta does end up winning one of these two remaining games and the Padres end up losing one of their remaining two.
In that case, the Phillies will be hosting the Reds, who have plenty of interesting decisions to make with regards to their playoff rotation.
First, though, let's start with a succession of facts:
- In two starts against the Reds this season, Roy Halladay pitched 17 innings and allowed 4 earned runs.
- In two starts against the Phillies this season, Johnny Cueto pitched 15 innings and allowed 2 earned runs.
- In his last two starts against the Reds, Roy Oswalt has allowed 9 earned runs in 12 innings.
- In his last two starts against the Phillies, Edinson Volquez has allowed 1 earned run in 12 1/3 innings.
- In his one start against the Reds this season, Cole Hamels pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed 9 baserunners.
- In his one start against the Phillies this season, Travis Wood pitched 9 scoreless innings and allowed 1 baserunner.
Now, none of these starts came in the postseason. The aforementioned trio of Reds pitchers have combined for zero playoff starts. Hamels and Oswalt, meanwhile, have combined for 17.
The fact of the matter is, though, that in five of the Phillies' seven games against the Reds this season, they have failed to score more than four runs. In four of those games, they failed to score more than three. In two of those games, they failed to score more than one.
The good news is that the Phillies went 5-2 against the Reds. And thanks to back-to-back gems hurled by Hamels and Halladay, they won two of those games 1-0.
Still, if recent history is any indication, the Phils' could have a tougher time against Reds pitching than most people expect.
What, exactly, that Reds pitching rotation will look like remains to be seen. Right now, the four starters who would seem to have the strongest cases for starts agaisnt the Phillies are Cueto, Volquez, Wood and veteran righthander Bronson Arroyo.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Arroyo is the logical choice to start Game 1 for the Reds. The root of that logic lies in Arroyo's performance this season, when the 33-year-old veteran is 17-10 with a 3.88 ERA. Arroyo has a 3.27 ERA in his last 13 starts while holding opponents to a .227 batting average. He also is the only member of the rotation who has postseason experience, having appeared in 10 games (2 starts) for the Red Sox from 2003-05.
But if Dusty Baker opts to go with the better match-up over the veteran arm, Arroyo would actually find himself as the odd man out in the rotation.
In his last two starts against the Phillies -- both in 2008 -- he allowed 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings and 5 runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Here are the Phillies' career numbers against Arroyo:
1. Shane Victorino: 2/6, 1 SO
2. Placido Polanco: 6/17, 3B
3. Chase Utley: 4/9, HR
4. Ryan Howard: 2/6, 2 2B, 4 SO
5. Jayson Werth: Has not faced
6. Raul Ibanez: 1/3
7. Jimmy Rollins: 4/12, 2B, BB
8. Carlos Ruiz: 0/2
9. Ross Gload: 3/7, 2B, HR
10. Ben Francisco: 1/5, 2B, BB, 2 SO
11. Brian Schneider: 1/12, RBI, SO
12. Mike Sweeney: 0/0, 2 BB
13. Wilson Valdez: Has not faced
Now, let's look at the rest of the potential starters:
1) Johnny Cueto
Over the last two seasons, Cueto has faced the Phillies four times:
1. July 8, 2010 (4-3, Phils): 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1 HR
2. June 28, 2010 (7-3, Reds): 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
3. July 6, 2009 (22-1 Phils): 0.2 IP, 5 H, 9 R/ER, 3 BB, 1 SO, 2 HR
4. May 19, 2009 (4-3 Phils): 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R/ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
So in three of those four starts, Cueto has pitched at least 7 innings and allowed 4 or fewer runs. The one exception was that 22-1 blowout last July, which started off a run of eight starts in which Cueto posted a 10.64 ERA before going on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
In Cueto's last 18 starts this season, he is 6-6 with a 3.01 ERA.
Shane Victorino vs. Cueto: 5/10, 2 HR, 2 BB
Ryan Howard vs. Cueto: 3/10, 2B, 3B, HR, SO
Jimmy Rollins vs. Cueto: 2/11, 2 2B, 2 BB, 1 SO
Chase Utley vs. Cueto: 2/7, SO
Raul Ibanez vs. Cueto: 2/8, SO
Carlos Ruiz vs. Cueto: 0/3, BB, SO
Placido Polanco and Jayson Werth have never faced Cueto.
2) Edinson Volquez
The Reds are 10-2 in Bailey's last 12 starts. During that time span, he has posted a 3.39 ERA and held opponents to a .232 batting average. The last time he faced the Phillies, he held them to 2 runs in 6 innings with 6 strikeouts and no walks in a 3-2 loss on July 8, 2009. He also faced them once in 2008 and once in 2007 with less stellar results.
Volquez has started 12 games since returning from suspension/elbow surgery. In his first three starts, he posted an 8.25 ERA. In his last nine, he has gone 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Volquez has faced the Phillies twice in his career, both in 2008:
1. June 4, 2008 (2-0, Reds): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
2. April 6, 2008 (8-2, Reds): 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
Shane Victorino vs. Volquez: 0/5, 1 BB, 3 SO
Jimmy Rollins vs. Volquez: 1/7, 2 SO
Ryan Howard vs. Volquez: 1/5, BB, 3 SO
Raul Ibanez vs. Volquez: 3/9, BB, 2 SO
Placido Polanco vs. Volquez: 1/2, 2B, BB
Chase Utley vs. Volquez: 1/5, 2 SO
Carlos Ruiz vs. Volquez: 1/2, 2B, SO
3) Travis Wood
We all remember Wood as the guy who nearly threw a perfect game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park back in July (the Phils ended up winning 1-0 in extras).
That night, Wood struck out eight and walked none. The 23-year-old was perfect through eight innings before Carlos Ruiz led off the ninth with a double. The Phillies ended up winning in the 11th, when Ruiz hit a one-out doubleand Rollins drove him home with a two-out single. Including that game, Wood is 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA in his last 15 starts. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his last seven starts, although he has allowed exactly three in six of them.
4) Homer Bailey
I can't imagine the Reds giving Bailey a start in this series, although they have won 10 of his last 12 starts (3.39 ERA during that stretch). Bailey also held the Phillies to two runs in six innings with six strikeouts in a 3-2 loss last July (he also had a start against them in 2007 and 2008, both with much less stellar results).
Now, let's look at how the Phillies' Big Three have fared against the Reds:
1) Roy Halladay
Halladay has faced the Reds twice this season. In a lost at Great American Ballpark on May 30, he allowed 4 runs on 13 hits with 10 strikeouts in 8 innings. In a win on July 10, he pitched 9 scoreless innings, striking out 9 and allowing 5 hits and 1 walks.
Halladay also faced the Reds once in 2008, allowing 5 runs on 9 hits with 7 strikeouts and 4 walks in 6 2/3 innings.
In Halladay's last 18 starts, he is 13-4 with a 2.45 ERA.
Joey Votto vs. Halladay: 3/11, 2B, HR, BB, 3 SO
Jay Bruce vs. Halladay: 3/11, 2B, HR, 5 SO
Orlando Cabrera vs. Halladay: 13/48, 2 2B, HR, 1 BB, 10 SO
Jonny Gomes vs. Halladay: 9/32, 2B, 3B, HR, 9 SO
Miguel Cairo vs. Halladay: 4/11, 2B, 3 SO
Scott Rolen vs. Halladay: 1/5, SO
Laynce Nix vs. Halladay: 2/4, 2B
Ramon Hernandez vs. Halladay: 13/37, 2 2B, 1 BB, 2 SO
2. Roy Oswalt
Oswalt is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 34 games, 32 starts in his career against the Reds. But he has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last four starts and at least four earned runs in three of four.
1. July 24, 2010 (7-0, Reds): 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R/ER, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2 HR
2. April 29, 2010 (4-2, Reds): 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R/ER, 4 BB, 7 SO, 1 HR
3. Sept. 15, 2010 (5-4, Reds): 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R/ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 HR
4. May 26, 2009 (6-4, Reds): 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR
5. April 27, 2009 (4-1, Astros): 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR
6. April 17, 2009 (2-1, Reds): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR
Brandon Phillips vs. Oswalt: 12/38, 5 2B, 2 BB, 2 SO
Joey Votto vs. Oswalt: 10/30, 2 2B, 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 SO
Jay Bruce vs. Oswalt: 7/29, 2 2B, 1 BB, 1 SO
Laynce Nix vs. Oswalt: 9/18, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO
Ramon Hernandez vs. Oswalt: 5/11, 1 HR, 2 BB, 0 SO
Miguel Cairo vs. Oswalt: 5/17, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 SO
Scott Rolen vs. Oswalt: 9/32, 4 2B, 2 BB, 7 SO
3) Cole Hamels
Put simply, Hamels loves pitching against the Reds. The Phillies have won all of his seven career starts against them:
1. July 11, 2010 (1-0, Phils): 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
2. July 6, 2009 (22-1, Phils): 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR
3. May 19, 2009 (4-3, Phils): 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R/ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 2 HR
4. June 5, 2008 (5-0, Phils): 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR
5. April 7, 2008 (5-3, Phils): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR
6. April 21 2007 (4-1, Phils): 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 15 SO, 1 HR
7. May 12, 2006 (8-4, Phils): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 5 BB, 7 SO, 0 HR
Joey Votto vs. Hamels: 2/9, 2B, 2 BB, 1 SO
Ramon Hernandez vs. Hamels: 3/6, 1 2B, 1 HR
Brandon Phillips vs. Hamels: 2/22, 1 3B, 1 BB, 7 SO
Scott Rolen vs. Hamels: 3/12, 2B, 2 BB, 3 SO
Jay Bruce vs. Hamels: 1/12, 1 HR, 2 SO
Jonny Gomes vs. Hamels: 1/4, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO
Miguel Cairo vs. Hamels: 2/4, 3B, SO
Paul Janish: 3/7, 2B, SO
So where does all of this leave us?
Essentially, your guess is as good as mine. But if we are to look strictly at the numbers, here are three logical match-ups for Games 1, 2, and 3:
Game 1 - RHP Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64) at RHP Roy Halladay
Rationale: Cueto's recent success against the Phillies combined with his success against lefties. Lefties are hitting .234 with a .710 OPS against him compared with .276/.741 for righties. Lefties have 82 strikeouts in 312 at-bats. Righties have 56 strikeouts in 391 at-bats.
Maybe not: Arroyo could very well get the nod based on his career year and experience. Cueto has a 3.20 ERA at Great American Ballpark and a 4.10 ERA on the road.
Game 2 - LHP Travis Wood (5-4, 3.51) at RHP Roy Oswalt
Rationale: Lefties are hitting just .136 with a .446 OPS against Wood, compared with .240/.651 for righties. He is 5-2 with a 3.36 ERA in 13 starts away from Great American Ballpark and 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in four starts at home. Wood pitched great at CBP earlier this season, and pitching him in Game 2 would break up the righties in the rotation.
Maybe not: Wood is just 23 years old and has 17 big league starts under his belt. Are the Reds comfortable sending him out there for Game 2 of a playoff series?
Game 3A - RHP Bronson Arroyo (17-10, 3.88) vs. LHP Cole Hamels
Rationale: Every game is big in a five-game series, but Game 3 might be the most pressure-packed of them. If you are down 0-2, you are pitching to stave off elimination. At 1-1, you are pitching to force the other team into an elimination situation. Arroyo's home/road splits are pretty even this season (4.03 ERA in 15 starts at GABP, 3.76 ERA in 18 starts on the road.
Maybe not: He matches up poorly against the Phillies. And he has pitched in relief before (eight of his 10 postseason appearances have come as a reliever.). Might Arroyo be the ideal long man to back up the young starters if they falter early?
If so, then:
Game 3B - RHP Edinson Volquez (4-3, 4.31 ERA) at LHP Cole Hamels
Rationale: See Cueto. Lefties are hitting .229 with a .691 OPS against Volquez with 33 strikeouts in 105 at-bats. They also have one home run against him. Righties: .273 AVG, .776 OPS, 34 strikeouts in 128 at-bats with five home runs.
Of course, those are small sample sizes. In his last full seasons, lefties hit .249 with a .700 OPS compared with .214/.660 for righties.
He has a 3.23 ERA in seven home starts compared with a 6.08 ERA in five road starts.
Again, though, small sample size.
Maybe not: Volquez can struggle with his command. His K/BB ratio vs. lefties is 1.32 compared to 3.40 against righties.
In 2008, Volquez was 9-3 with a 2.43 ERA on the road and 8-3 with a 4.03 ERA at Great American Ballpark.