The Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds square off tonight in primetime on ESPN 2, for each team’s second game after Monday’s season opener. See my MLB pick inside.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds took game one 6-2 with some late inning fireworks courtesy of the Phillies’ bullpen. Both of these NL Central teams lack talent on the mound, especially in the bullpen, something that will likely be a thorn in the side of both squads throughout the season.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds square off tonight in primetime on ESPN 2, for each team’s second game after Monday’s season opener. The Reds took game one 6-2 with some late inning fireworks courtesy of the Phillies’ bullpen. Both of these NL Central teams lack talent on the mound, especially in the bullpen, something that will likely be a thorn in the side of both squads throughout the season.
Tonight’s pitching matchup pits two former 2014 1st round picks against each other with Aaron Nola (7th pick) taking the mound for the Phillies, and Brandon Finnegan (17th pick) for the Reds. Nola made 13 starts as a rookie, allowing one run or fewer in five of his final seven outings. The former LSU Tiger’s rookie campaign wasn’t entirely smooth sailing however, as he did get torched for six runs in his other starts. Couple that with the fact that Cincinnati has the ability to platoon at several positions, and it is clear that the Reds have an advantage facing the young righty.
To make matters worse for the Phillies, Nola really struggled against lefties last year, as southpaws posted a .310 batting average and a .360 on base percentage against him. With OPS lefty/righty splits over .200 points higher from the left side, Nola could be in for a rough night in the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ballpark.
On the other side, Reds’ starter Brandon Finnegan will make the fifth start of his career tonight. He started four games last year after being traded to Cincinnati from the Kansas City Royals, where he had been used exclusively out of the bullpen, logging 14 appearances in relief before coming over to the Queen City in the highly publicized Johnny Cueto trade.
The TCU product has had a spring to forget, having posted a 10.05 ERA in six spring appearances (five starts), with opponents batting .344 against him. In his last spring training outing, Finnegan gave up six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the White Sox. After giving up six earned runs in back to back Cactus League starts, it is easy to assume that the Reds’ lack of alternatives gave Finnegan his rotation spot despite getting shelled this spring, posting a 10.29 ERA and 2.07 WHIP overall. The Reds placed four of their young starters on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, including top hurler Anthony DeSclafani - the ace of an all-rookie rotation for a MLB record 64 games to close 2015.
All things considered, the Phillies and Reds combine for two of the worst bullpens in all of baseball. The Reds’ lack of talent in the pen is pretty obvious having lost Aroldis Chapman, and the grim reality of the rebuild they’re undertaking is a dark cloud looming over Cincinnati’s 2016 campaign.
The current Reds bullpen has a combined 3.81 ERA and a 4.00 FIP, two numbers that put them below every other team’s reliever corps besides, you guessed it, the Phillies. Philadelphia’s pen combined for a MLB worst 4.01 ERA and FIP, and shows no signs of improvement. Case in point, David Hernandez did not record an out, and allowed three runs on two walks and a hit after being brought in to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning on Opening Day. With the lack of quality arms in both bullpens, and each starter with major concerns in tonight’s matchup, my MLB pick is on the over of 8 on the MLB odds boards in tonight’s nationally televised matchup.
Free MLB Pick: Over 8
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle