Game time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
Where to watch: Bally Sports Ohio, NBCSP
Season-to-date (entering Friday)
Reds: 62-54 (2nd place, NL Central)
Phillies: 60-55 (1st place, NL East)
Jonathan India (R) 2B
Jesse Winker (L) LF
Kyle Farmer (R) SS
Joey Votto (L) 1B
Tyler Stephenson (R) C
Aristides Aquino (R) RF
Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
Tyler Naquin (L) CF
Luis Castillo (R) P
Jean Segura (R) 2B
Brad Miller (L) 1B
Bryce Harper (L) RF
Andrew McCutchen (R) LF
Didi Gregorius (L) SS
Ronald Torreyes (R) 3B
Travis Jankowski (L) CF
Andrew Knapp (S) C
Aaron Nola (R) P
Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Reds -145, Phillies +125; Over 9.5 -105, Under 9.5 -115
Recent form (entering Friday)
Reds: Lost three of four
Phillies: Won nine of 11
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Reds - Phillies preview
Talk about an important series for playoff implications.
The Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds play the second game of a three-game series Saturday in Philadelphia that could sway the standings game, at least in the short term.
This applies particularly to the Phillies, who went two days out of place in the National League East to back atop the division in the blink of an eye.
There is that feeling of a squandered opportunity in the eyes of the Phillies by losing two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers at home. Philadelphia did salvage a victory in the series finale on Thursday, a 2-1 win.
Bryce Harper boosted his MVP campaign with a 21st home run to put the Phillies a half game ahead of the New York Mets entering Friday, and one game ahead of the Atlanta Braves.
“This is going to be a dogfight,” Harper said.
In such a weird season, Harper has carried the Phillies to playoff positioning over the last 11 games. He’s batting .316 with five home runs and eight RBI.
The other part to Philadelphia’s string of success has relied on the right arm of Zack Wheeler. He’s gone at least six innings in his last five starts (4-1), coming off a complete-game, two-hit shutout against his former Mets teammates on Sunday. This career season of his has pushed his ERA down to a best 2.42 with no question who will be handed the ball come Game 1 of the NLDS.
Should they get there, of course.
The story goes the same for the Reds after a stretch of 10 wins in 12 games pushed them back into the playoff conversation. While they may not catch the Milwaukee Brewers atop the National League Central, the wild card situation has gotten more intriguing.
Cincinnati is 3.5 games back of the San Diego Padres for the second wild card and have taken full advantage of the Padres being without Fernando Tatis Jr.
Unfortunately for the Reds, they just ended a three-game losing streak Thursday with a resounding 12-3 win against the Braves. Jesse Winkler continued his surprising All-Star campaign going 3-for-4 with a grand slam, and Tyler Naquin hitting a three-run homer, as well.
It was a much-needed offensive explosion for the Reds after being held to 11 runs during that losing streak. Thursday, the Reds hit five home runs and showed there’s still plenty of fight remaining in this scrappy team.
“As good as our offense has been, we haven’t had too many games like this, which is nice,” said Reds manager David Bell. “Guys [are] working so hard to get some results, to get some hits, the home runs. Big days by several of our position players, so that always helps. It's kind of rewarding, to get the home runs and the hits and all the runs. It makes for a little bit different kind of game.”
Though he went 1-for-3 on Thursday, Joey Votto has been the catalyst to the Reds’ resurgence. Votto, entering Friday, has batted .361 with 11 home runs since July 26, in which the Reds have gone 10-6 in that time. Even at 37 years old, he’s finding ways to produce for a young ball club that wants to get back to the playoffs, even as a wild card team.
It feels like it’s been a long time since the Reds were a hefty underdog on the road. It’s happened 50 times this year, with the Reds going 23-27. But when it’s between +125 to +175 on the road, it’s been far and few between, but Cincinnati has been good, going 10-5 (+9.4).
By that same token, the total has been split in the last 14 (7-7), but the under has gone 36-18 for the Reds over the last three years. We’ll see how that number changes after Friday night’s start from Tyler Mahle.
Philadelphia is 33-22 (+3) when a favorite of -110 or higher and are 9-2 in August. The fact they’ve been able to field a winning record at this time of the year, considering all hope seemed lost a few weeks ago, is astounding. The home play is critical here.
This is going to be a fun series with Friday’s game already proving to be a good starting point. Aaron Nola will be a tough out on the mound for Philly, but the key will be how Cincy sustains that success from Thursday. Will they find a way to carry it over to this important series against a team that also needs wins? Or are the Reds coming back down to Earth? I see the Reds winning at least one game this series, and that comes Saturday. Reds win, over cashes.
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