The 2010 NLDS has arrived and it has pitted David against Goliath.
It’s the mighty Philadelphia Phillies against the “happy to be here” Cincinnati Reds.
Going from 78 wins to 91 is an outstanding achievement. The Queen city enjoyed quite the celebration when the team went out to Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati to celebrate the teams’ first postseason appearance since 1995 on Monday.
But is that it? Are you satisfied Reds fans?
The media has given the Reds a minuscule chance of beating the mighty Phillies—the same team that has gone to back-to-back World Series, winning one of them.
Critics look at the ridiculous rotation of H2O: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels and think the Reds are screwed. They see All-Stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jason Werth, and Shane Victorino and think the Reds young pitching staff is screwed.
Not so fast my friend.
Led by Dusty Baker, managing his fifth postseason with his third different team, the unproven Red have to show poise and maturity when they take the field against a weathered Phillies team.
They also have absolutely nothing to lose. All the pressure is on the home team.
With 22 wins in their last at-bat in ‘10, the Reds are very familiar to playing the underdog role. Sure ESPN radio host Colin Cowerd has called the Reds “frauds” all year. Sure they have an awful record against the other three NL teams in the postseason, 10-19 to be exact. Sure there starting pitcher doesn’t feature a single “ace”.
But think about all the times this club has been doubted throughout the “big 162”. They were picked to finish third in the majority of preseason predictions. A .500 or better record was the bar that was set.
After an embarrassing home loss to the Padres in mid-April, the Reds seemed destined for yet another long season.
As the season rolled on most expected the St. Louis Cardinals to eventually catch the Reds after they captured first place in May. After being swept in a four game set at Philly to end the first half, the doubters again emerged.
The brawl series had everyone more than convinced that the little team that could ran out of steam.
Well here they are, predicted by none and given no respect by all. Now the Reds once again find themselves facing the same scenario. So how can this miracle upset occur?
Cincinnati committed just 72 errors this season. That’s the third-fewest in the National League, and their fielding percentage of .988 was second best in the NL. The Phillies committed 83 errors.
The Reds were the highest-scoring team in all of the NL. If a game comes down to one swing, there are few better to have on your side then soon-to-be MVP Joey Votto, whose 37 homers and 113 RBI beat the numbers of any Phillies player this season.
The Reds had six players with at least 18 home runs (the Phillies had five). They hit more homers than the Phillies 188-166 and had a significantly higher team average (.272-.260).
And if the Phillies’ pitchers have a weakness, it’s the home run, their 131 homers allowed is tied for second in all of baseball.
If the Reds starting pitching can hold the potent Phils lineup to three or four runs a start, the Reds power can do the rest.
But that is certainly a big IF.
Walks will destroy you and Reds pitchers walked 108 more batters than the Phillies in 2010. That was a large factor in Philadelphia’s notably better ERA (3.66 to 4.03).
Should rookie Travis Wood be in the rotation? He is the only Reds lefty starter and had a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Phils in July.
Problem is, the Philies line-up was banged up, it was their first time seeing Wood, and he has only pitched in the majors since June. So there is no need to second-guess Baker. Look for Wood to be the first one out of the ‘pen if a starter falters early.
Bronson Arroyo has been rocked by the lefty-latent Phillies line-up. Edinson Volquez was pitching in Single A ball last month. Johnny Cueto has been known to get overly emotional in big moments.
These are legit concerns and what everyone is looking at. It’s obvious: Phillies three-man rotation> the Reds three-man rotation.
The Phillies are finally healthy after being banged up for most of the season. All of the mashers have returned.
So you can see why most think the Reds are going to get eliminated very quickly.
The Red Legs must rely on their potent line-up filled with power, stellar defense around the diamond and the bullpen to carry them. Aroldis Chapman will be used to lock-up the lefties in big moments. Arthur Rhodes and Nick Masset are some of the best middle-relievers out there.
The Philies bullpen is not nearly as intimidating as the starters. Getting to the ‘pen early will be a huge advantage for the Reds. Hanging tough with the Phils through the first six innings will be the key. A tie game in the seventh is a big Reds advantage.
The Reds will have to dig deep to pull it off, especially with the weight of 15 losing seasons in a row on their collective backs.
On paper this series should be a breeze for the Phillies…but that’s why they play the game…

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