With both teams looking to secure a series victory as the month of June gets underway, the Cincinnati Reds travel to Citizen’s Bank Park for a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, starting today (Game 1 – 7:05 PM ET Friday).
The (28-33) Cincinnati Reds sit in last place in the NL Central, but just six games back of the division-leading (34-27) Chicago Cubs, meaning, with it still being early in the season, they are still in the race.
The (35-27) Philadelphia Phillies, owning the second best record in the National League, sit atop the NL East, though just two games separate them and the (33-29) Atlanta Braves.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the Reds and the team finds itself in the cellar of the NL Central, largely due to their eight game losing streak, which followed a season opening victory. After going 5-12 over their first five series, the Reds have managed to play at or around .500 baseball ever since.
Prolonged losing streaks have been followed by lengthy winning streaks and vice versa. In fact, the team has yet to lose more than two games in a row since they got out of their early slump. Entering this series with the Phillies, the Reds are coming off a loss, and a record of 5-5 in their last 10.
With the signing of Bryce Harper and several other key bats, the Phillies were expected to be a tough team this year and their early season showing supported that. Offensive successes dominated for the team as Philadelphia won seven of their first nine games including opening the season 4-0. Recently, the hitting has dried up a bit and paired with a tough road stretch, the Phillies fell victim to a five game losing streak, their longest of the season. Entering this series, Philadelphia is coming off two straight wins, in which they scored 16 runs combined, but just a 5-5 record in their last 10.
Pitching Probables – Game One: (PHI) Zach Eflin vs (CIN) Tyler Mahle
Both the Phillies and the Reds will be represented on the mound by two of their young starters, both of whom have shown great potential in limited appearances this season.
24-year-old Tyler Mahle, a right-handed pitcher who made his MLB debut in 2017, has pitched in 11 games this year, his second as a starter, and currently posts a 4.26 ERA with 61.1 innings pitched, 67 strikeouts and a 1.26 WHIP. He’ll be opposed by 25-year-old Zach Eflin, who will be making his first start since spending a brief stint on the IL a few weeks back. Eflin made his MLB debut in 2016 with the Phillies and has improved his numbers each year since. In 2019, prior to his injury, Eflin posted a career-best 3.02 ERA (good enough for fourth best in the National League) in his first 11 starts. He has an NL best two complete games, and is tied for the best-mark in the MLB with that number. He is also one of just a handful of pitchers this year, to throw a nine-inning shut-out. He’s walked just 14 while striking out 51.
Eflin has been the Phillies’ best pitcher this year and is one of the guys they can rely on to go deep into games. That’s important because the Philadelphia bullpen has been disappointing at best and abysmal at worst. More often than not, when the team has lost games this year, it’s been because the bullpen has been unable to hold a lead. Eflin will have the edge in this matchup and he’ll no doubt look to go deep as he can. But given he’s coming back from a missed start, he may well be on a pitch count, in which case the Phillies will have no choice but to rely on their shaky pen.
Fortunately for the Phillies, they have the advantage of being at home, where Eflin is a crisp 3-1 with a sterling 2.25 ERA in 28 innings pitched. Mahle meanwhile, is 0-5 on the road, with a 4.96 ERA and just 45.1 innings pitched across eight starts.
Neither team has really faced the opposing pitcher on the mound all that often, with six at-bats being the most any Red has against Eflin and four the most any Phillies has against Mahle.
Tale of the Tape
Statistically, the Phillies best the Reds in most offensive categories including runs scored, hits, RBI, batting average and OPS. The Reds best the Phillies in home runs however, and CBP is what they call, a bandbox. Definitely a hitter’s ballpark, the Phillies, with a bottom-10 home run total this year, haven’t really taken advantage of the park’s friendly confines. That’s not to say the Reds won’t though as historically, Cincinnati has done well in Philadelphia, due to the similar natures of CBP and Great American Ballpark.
From a pitching standpoint, the Reds hold the edge, besting Philadelphia in total ERA, fewer walks, more strikeouts and a better batting average against. In fact, the Reds don’t just outrank the Phillies but much of MLB as they are top-5 in several pitching stats including many of those mentioned above. On the year, the Phillies have a team ERA of 4.20 at home whereas Cincinnati has the second-best road ERA in baseball, just 3.47.
Our Betting Preview’s Cincinnati Reds vs Philadelphia Phillies Predictions & Picks Verdict
The Phillies finally ended their season-long five game losing skid with a pair of victories against the (31-31) San Diego Padres to win the three-game series. The Reds, on account of a rain postponement, split their most recent series with the (31-29) St. Louis Cardinals.
Philadelphia has been playing good baseball again, aided by the serendipitous timing of their signing of Jay Bruce. Bruce has played just three games for the Phillies but he already has three home runs, including a grand slam, five runs, even RBI and a .545 batting average. With Andrew McCutchen out for the season, Bruce should be expected to get a bulk of playing time in the outfield and his presence should rejuvenate the lineup as it has the past two games especially.
Look for the Phillies to ride a strong start from Eflin and continued offense production from Bruce and company to pick up the victory. The Cincinnati Reds vs Philadelphia Phillies predictions for this preview are:
- The American-friendly legal sportsbooks have not published their betting lines on this matchup yet. We expect Philadelphia Phillies to win this game and that is the way you should wager.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.