Phillies-Reds: What you need to know
Phillies (57-67) vs. Cincinnati Reds (76-49)7:05 p.m. on CSN
This one is going to be a dandy.
Following Wednesday’s 3-2 Phillies loss to Bronson Arroyo is a matchup of two top NL Cy Young candidates. It’s Johnny Cueto (16-6, 2.44) vs. Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.94).
Cueto leads the National League in wins and ERA. Hamels and Cueto are sixth and seventh, respectively, in innings pitched. Hamels is fourth in strikeouts. Hamels is seventh in WHIP, Cueto is 10th.
Cueto has won seven of his last eight starts while Hamels has won three in a row. Cueto has 29 strikeouts to three walks in his last four starts. Hamels has 30 strikeouts and three walks in that same span.
Cueto has a 2.14 ERA in his last three starts against the Phillies. Before that, he allowed nine runs to the Phils in two-thirds of an inning in a 22-1 loss.
Hamels in five starts against the Reds from 2009-11 went 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA. Cincinnati hit just .186 off of him. Hamels also pitched a dominant, five-hit, nine-strikeout shutout against the Reds in the 2010 NLDS.
These matchups don’t always live up to the hype, but there haven’t been two more stifling starters in the NL this season than Cueto and Hamels.
Dom is rollin’
The Phillies had two hits before the ninth inning Wednesday and both belonged to Domonic Brown.
Brown homered and doubled off Arroyo, made a diving catch in right-center and gunned Jay Bruce out at home plate by a wide margin. He also missed a towering fly ball in the lights, but the good has certainly outweighed the bad lately for Brown.
Brown is 7 for 15 in his last four games with a homer, three doubles, seven RBI and four runs. He’s finally showing signs of being a game-changing offensive player.
Lefties hit Cueto
Cueto, who for the last two seasons has used a twisting, Luis Tiant-like windup, is death to righthanded hitters. Righties are batting just .199 off him this season with a .550 OPS. Lefties, though, have hit .283 with a .706 OPS.
Ryan Howard has had success off Cueto and is swinging a hot bat of late. Howard is 4 for 12 off Cueto with two doubles, a triple and a homer.
Chase Utley is 3 for 10 off Cueto, and while Jimmy Rollins is just 3 for 14, all three hits were doubles.
That damn eighth inning
The Phillies again allowed an insurance run in the eighth inning on Wednesday, with Bruce hitting a ball halfway to Saturn against Josh Lindblom.
Lindblom is just one of many Phillies relievers who has failed in the eighth inning this season. He’s given up three home runs in seven innings since joining the Phils, and has allowed 11 bombs in his last 41 innings overall.
The Phillies have the worst ERA in baseball in the eighth inning at 5.66. They’ve allowed 22 home runs in that frame alone, which is four more than the next-worst team and 16 more than the major league-leading Athletics.
It is no surprise that the bottom 10 teams in eighth-inning ERA are a combined 177 games under .500. Sound off
Has Dom Brown made you a believer? E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com