Phillies welcome Reds to town to close out homestand

Aaron nola
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 24: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of the game between the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies on July 24, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

After taking the series finale against the Dodgers to avoid getting swept, the Philadelphia Phillies welcome the Cincinnati Reds to town for a three game set to close out their nine game homestand. After dropping the first two games of the series, the Phillies were able to stay in first place in the NL East with a 2-1 victory. Philly actually has Cincy to thank, as they took down the Braves 12-3 in the last game of their series in Atlanta.

Last time these teams faced off was in Cincinnati, they traded blowouts before game 3 was postponed. That makeup game was a loss for the Phillies, highlighted by the first of only two disastrous appearances from Neftali Feliz. Coming to CBP has been a challenge for the Reds as of late. In their last eight visits to the City of Brotherly Love, the Reds have only 1 series victory and have lost five of six games since 2018.

Pitching Matchups

In Game one, the Reds are sending Tyler Mahle to the mound to face to face Cy Young favorite, the NAIT, Zack Wheeler. If you’re a Phillies fan, you know what Wheeler has done this year. Coming off of an emotional, dominant performance in his last start, Wheeler will look to continue his success against the Reds.

Wheeler has made four career starts versus the Reds and has held them to one earned run in three of those appearances while tossing at least six innings. Tossing 25 frames against the Redlegs, he’s whiffed 23 without allowing a homer. Mahle is also coming off of an impressive start. He allowed two runs while fanning 10 Pittsburgh Pirates. Most impressively, it was his first start since May 15th without issuing a walk. However, the Phillies have tagged Mahle in his two career appearances against them. The Fightins have beat up Mahle for five earned runs in six innings, including three dingers.  He lasted just one inning in his only start at CBP, allowing six hits and three runs.

Luis Castillo will be facing off against TBD on Saturday. Castillo is coming off of a rough start against Cleveland where he gave up two HRs. He has been taken deep five times in his last three appearances. Although no current Phillie has taken him deep in their career, the offense is hot, having hit 17 bombs in the last 14 games. If Castillo continues to struggle with the long ball this weekend, that is a good sign for the Phillies offense.

In the series finale, there is a rematch from the Phillies 17-3 victory from earlier in the season as Aaron Nola takes on Sonny Gray. Gray pitched much better than the final score, going 4 2/3 frames while giving up three runs. The issue for the Reds that day was the bullpen. Nola will look to build off of his sharp, rain-shortened outing against the Dodgers. Although he has not lost to the Reds since 2017, Nola hasn’t pitched great against them as of late, pitching to the tune of a 5.14 ERA in his last 29 2/3 innings.

Reds can mash; Votto turns back the clock

The Reds are more known for their offense this season, ranking in the top five in most offensive categories. While their studs Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker rank near the top in the NL in 2B, HR, AVG, and RBI, Joey Votto has been on a tear. He now only trails Fernando Tatis Jr. for the NL lead in homers and is top 5 in RBIs (and I dropped him in fantasy for Gary Sanchez. Who I then dropped, then picked up again, then dropped again. sigh). The question for the Phillies is: can they silence the Reds hot bats with their studs in Wheeler and Nola on the mound? TBD may or may not be the deciding factor.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire