After a demoralizing defeat, the Cincinnati Reds are going to have no choice but to buckle down and take care of the Philadelphia Phillies in the first MLB postseason betting battle ever contested at the Great American Ballpark on Sunday night.
The Philadelphia bullpen really did its job on Friday night. The Phillies pitched four scoreless frames, including one by Ryan Madson and one by Brad Lidge to help seal the deal on a 2-0 series lead. However, the Reds really had Philly dead to rights in Game 2, as they knocked around RHP Roy Oswalt for four runs in five innings of work. The problem really came in the seventh inning, as two of the four errors for Cincinnati in the game occurred in that catastrophic inning. LHP Aroldis Chapman allowed three unearned runs in the seventh inning, as a 4-0 lead halfway through the game ultimately went by the boards. The Phils now hold a 2-0 series lead and are just one step away from their third straight trip to the NLCS.
Getting 211 strikeouts and having a 3.06 ERA wasn't good enough for LHP Cole Hamels to really post a good record on a good team this year, as he was only 12-11 for the season. Hamels was knocked around in his last start of the year, allowing five runs in four frames on September 26th, but he did pitch two scoreless frames on the final day of the regular season. Prior to that, Hamels had won five straight starts, as he ERA dropped from 3.51 into the high 2.00s. This southpaw has never lost to the Reds in his career. He is 6-0 with two complete games, one of which was a shutout. Hamels has a 1.07 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, and a .163 batting average against. Needless to say, the Reds have had totally stymied by Hamels.
The last hope for the Reds sits on the right arm of Johnny Cueto. Cueto has not pitched well of late, as he doesn't have a win to his credit since August 27th. The righty did go 12-7 on the season, a very respectable mark in spite of the fact that he had 31 starts on the year. He struck out 138 men in 185.2 innings of work and walked just 56 batters. Fortunately for Cueto, his last start against the Phils was a good one, as he only allowed one run in seven innings worth of work. Unfortunately, he is just 1-2 in his career against them in four starts with a 5.96 ERA.
We tend to believe that the Reds are going to show some fight in this series and get in the win column. No, they probably won't ultimately get back to the City of Brotherly Love for what might be a decisive Game 5, but this could be a nice spot for Cincinnati to ultimately end up notching a 'W' to make the hometown crowd feel good about itself in the first postseason game that this city has seen since the mid 1990s.
MLB Free Picks: Cincinnati Reds +130