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Reds vs. Phillies Series Preview: Rebuilding so hard you could build a house

Rebuilders vs. Rebuilders; who wore it better?

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Rebuilding is all the rage in baseball now. It’s not like it’s a new idea or anything, but if you’ve read anything anywhere about baseball, you’d kinda think that everyone is doing it. And now that the Tanking Kings (Cubs, losers of 101 games in 2012, and 90+ in the season before and after, and Astros, losers of 100 or more games in three straight seasons from 2011-2013) have won the last two World Series, well, it’s proven that it can kinda work.

So this series brings two of those rebuilding teams directly into focus: the Reds and the Phillies. Going into the 2017 season, the general consensus was that the Phillies were well ahead of the Reds in their rebuild, for whatever reason. As the 2017 season played out, that showed itself to perhaps not be the case. Neither team did well, of course, but the Reds finished two games better despite both playing in a much, much tougher division and having to turn to Scott Feldman, Bronson Arroyo, and Tim Adleman for significant pitching innings throughout the season.

But if the Reds were further ahead they didn’t act like it in the offseason, while the Phillies made moves. They signed 1B Carlos Santana away from Cleveland on a three year, $60 milion contract early in the winter. Then, sensing the slow market, they brought in former Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta from the Cubs on a three year, $75 million contract, to pair with Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation.

They brought in some relievers, too, just like the Reds. Adding all that to a young core of position players (JP Crawford, Rhys Hoskins, Mikel Franco, newly signed Scott Kingery) and MLB Pipeline’s #5 Farm system (though Crawford and Kingery bolster that) is, well, something. Not to mention that they’re in Philadelphia, have tons of money otherwise, and are likely to be in the 2018 offseason sweepstakes for someone like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado... the rebuilding Phillies are looking to be rebuilt. And they’re looking to do it faster than the Reds.

But is it going to work?

Schedule and Probable Pitchers

Monday, April 9th, 2018; 7:05 EDT

Cody Reed vs. RHP Ben Lively

Oh, this one should lend itself to some really good takes.

Lively, of course, is the former Reds farmhand that was traded shortly before the 2014 season for Marlon Byrd, for reasons that are still beyond my comprehension.

That’s not entirely accurate. I know why they did it; All Star Game in Cincinnati, duh doy. It was still dumb.

Lively got 88.2 IP with the Phillies last season, good for a 4.26 ERA, 1.286 WHIP and 100 ERA+. Not bad at all for a rookie. His last time out (against the Mets on April 3rd) Lively worked his way comfortably through five before allowing a couple of earned runs in the 6th. He was yanked after 91 pitches.

He’s more or less the same pitcher he was with the Reds. He doesn’t equip a fastball that wows on the radar gun, but it has bite, and he works in three other cromulent pitches as well. I don’t know that he’ll ever challenge anyone for a Cy Young Award, but he’s got all the tools to settle into the middle of a rotation nicely.

Not that the Reds could use that, or anything.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018; 7:05 EDT

Homer Bailey vs. RHP Aaron Nola

I really, really like Aaron Nola. And that’s mainly because he’s really good! He got the Opening Day start for the Phillies and went 5.1 IP, allowing a lone run and walk while striking out three. His next start, against the Mets, he went 5 IP, allowing two earned and four walks, but both runs and half of the walks came in the first inning. Thereafter, he settled down.

In 2017, Nola was worth 4.3 bWAR with a 3.54 ERA in 168 IP, striking out nearly 10 per nine innings pitched. Nola keeps the ball down in the zone and elicited nearly 50% GB% last season. He also has control and command, as he consistently hits his spots and induces swings and misses both in and out of the strike zone.

If the Reds are to steal one, it won’t likely be this one. They’re going to have to earn it at the plate.

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018; 7:05 EDT

Luis Castillo vs. RHP Nick Pivetta

Pivetta was pretty great in his last outing, striking out nine Marlins while allowing no runs, no walks, and only four hits through 5.2 innings. He was significantly less than that in his first outing of the season, striking out only three Braves while allowing five hits, three earned runs, and two walks.

A quick perusal of Pivetta’s Baseball Reference page will show that that Marlins start was one of the best of his Major League carrer; he went 7 IP against Boston in June of last season, striking out nine without allowing a run, but other than that, this one registers. So maybe the right-hander has figured a thing or two out going into his first full season.

I could give you some scouting, but you’d be better served by just reading John Sickels write up from last season.

Phillies Starting Lineup (Projected)*

2018 Philadelphia Phillies

C 17 Jorge Alfaro .286/.412/.500 149 0.365 126
1B 32 Carlos Santana .192/.281.500 110 0.326 100
2B 32 Cesar Hernandez .308/.438/.462 147 0.403 150
SS 21 JP Crawford .053/.100/.053 -57 0.079 -58
3B 22 Maikel Franco .316/.409/.789 221 0.499 212
LF 30 Rhys Hoskins .435/.533/.793 245 0.529 231
CF 23 Odubel Herrera .333/.391/.429 125 0.365 126
RF 27 Aaron Altherr .091/.259/.220 35 0.240 45

* Stats courtesy of and, effective April 7

Other Players of Note

Scott Kingery

Kingery received a contract prior to Opening Day. Before even seeing a pitch in MLB, the Phillies “rewarded” him with a 6 year contract “extension” that will guarantee Kingery $24 million, while giving the club options after 2024, ‘25, and ‘26.

I say rewarded in quotes because there’s some serious questions about who’s rewarding who in these situations, being that Kingery is the 31st prospect in all of baseball. There’s a pretty good chance that he’s giving the club a discount on his services over the long term, while also giving himself and his family some security in the short term. Smarter minds than mine will debate that, and they’ll do it for years to come.

But after being drafted in the 2nd round of the MLB draft in 2015, Kingery has been a fast riser. He’s got a plus hit tool and then hit 26 dingers in 2017, after combining for eight in the previous two professional seasons. He’s playing a bit of everywhere for the Phillies right now but, eventually, he should be a mainstay for the Phils up the middle.

Pat Neshek

Neshek is on the DL for the Phillies right now. This isn’t why, but it’s still hilarious.

Team Stats*

Reds vs. Phillies (April 7)

TEAM wRC+ OBP SLG (Starting) ERA- (Starting) FIP- (Relief) ERA- (Relief) FIP-
TEAM wRC+ OBP SLG (Starting) ERA- (Starting) FIP- (Relief) ERA- (Relief) FIP-
Reds 94 0.335 0.379 133 125 195 140
Phillies 101 0.335 0.403 87 70 126 118

* Stats courtesy of, effective April 7


I think it’s very obvious that the Reds will sweep this series, 3-0. Simply because the Reds are my favorite team, and my favorite team should win every baseball game. You see, baseball predicting is easy and this will be very right. I make the best predictions.