Phillies-Reds: What you need to know

Phillies-Reds: What you need to know

May 17, 2013, 2:15 pm
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Phillies (19-22) vs. Reds (25-16)
7:05 p.m. – PHL17

The Phillies have been idle as many days as they’ve played this week, but a return to the field comes Friday night when they open a three-game series with the rolling Reds.

Cincinnati has won six straight games, and six in a row on the road after starting the season 3-10 away from Great American Ballpark. They’re coming off a three-game sweep down in Miami.

Making up for last month

When the Phils and Reds met last month in Cincy it was a no-contest. The Phillies were outscored 16-4 in three losses. They had no walks and 24 strikeouts. They reached base 13 times compared to the Reds’ 36.

The Phillies were at their low-point then. They aren’t scoring much now, but the offense can’t possibly do as little this weekend as it did from April 15-17.

Plate patience matters

The Reds are a perfect illustration of what happens when you’re selective at the plate. Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo have reached base 177 times … which is the exact same number as Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere combined.

Now, obviously, Votto and Choo are able to be so selective because they are such good pure hitters. The better you are, the fewer pitches to hit you’ll see. But still, their ability to lay off offerings outside the strike zone is what sets them apart. Votto has swung at just 21 percent of pitches outside the zone the last two years. Howard has swung at more than 36 percent, according to Fangraphs.

Lee on the hill

Cliff Lee (4-2, 2.86) makes his ninth start of the season and second against the Reds. Last month, he allowed five hits and two runs over seven innings in a game Jeremy Horst lost an inning later.

Lee has impressive numbers against this potent Cincinnati lineup. Current Reds are hitting .250 with a .666 OPS off him. That said, Votto and Brandon Phillips are hitting a combined .356 with seven extra-base hits in 45 at-bats.

First look at Cingrani

The Phillies have a reputation, especially recently, of doing nothing against starting pitchers they haven’t seen before. They also have a reputation of not hitting left-handers.

They’ve been better lately against southpaws, reaching .231 as a team after hovering around .170 in April. But the 23-year-old Cingrani will be a challenge.

In five starts, Cingrani is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He’s struck out 37 and walked seven in 28 innings. Lefties are hitting .217 off him and righties .197.

Cingrani has a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph, and he’s used it 84 percent of the time in the majors. He turns to his slider when ahead in the count against righties, and has thrown a few changeups.

The Phils will see a lot of heaters tonight. That should be a good thing.