It might be old hat for the Philadelphia Phillies, but for the Cincinnati Reds, getting into the MLB playoff betting action has been a long time coming. The winner of the NL East and the winner of the NL Central will do battle in Game 1 of the NLDS on Wednesday afternoon at Citizen's Bank Ballpark.
Manager Dusty Baker certainly had an interesting decision to make regarding his pitching staff in this series. Instead of throwing 17 game winner Bronson Arroyo, he elected to go with a wild card, RHP Edinson Volquez. Volquez only went 4-3 on the season in 12 starts, but his last four were all fantastic, and Baker is content to go with the hot hand. Historically a big time strikeout pitcher, Volquez is going to need everything he's got, particularly against lefties to shut down this Philadelphia lineup. There's good news and bad news here for Reds fans. The good news is that Volquez is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA lifetime against the Phils. The bad news is that his ERA is over 6.00 on the season on the road.
Cincinnati's lineup is chock full of solid hitters that you might not recognize right off the top of your head, but the man to watch is clearly 1B Joey Votto. The Triple Crown contender in the NL batted .324 and had 37 dingers on the season, and he has a legitimate shot of being crowned NL MVP during these playoffs.
The Phillies are going to be throwing RHP Roy Halladay in Game 1 on Wednesday afternoon, and for good reason. Halladay has every right to win the Cy Young Award in the NL this year after winning 21 games. He hasn't pitched since September 27th, so he might be showing signs of rust early on. However, there's no doubt that he is coming into the second season on fire, as he has won five straight starts, including pitching a two hit shutout against the Washington Nationals in his final start of the regular season. Halladay never had playoff experience to fall back on in his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, but neither did LHP Cliff Lee when he absolutely dominated for the Phils in the postseason last year.
A healthy lineup features a ton of big bangers for the Phils, as Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino all have big time home run power, particularly at home. The only problem that the Phils might have is in their bullpen, where no one had an ERA of less than 2.50 for the season. As a team, Philly has the only bullpen in the postseason that had an ERA of at least 4.00 for the regular season.
There's no way that we can lay this type of chalk in the first game of the playoffs even if Halladay is an absolute stud and Volquez is a big question mark. Cincinnati won 91 games this year and is clearly good enough to take out anyone in the postseason. Our MLB playoff picks are on the Reds to swipe Game 1 in a big way to put all sorts of pressure on the Phils.
Selection: Cincinnati Reds +175