The Reds came into the playoffs as a division winner, drawing the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the MLB playoffs. Many predicted a tight series, but thus far the Reds have dominated the Giants.
The Reds are now shaping up for Game 3 tonight and have an opportunity to sweep the series on their home field. I'm sure it's still difficult (no matter how good the Reds are) for people to comprehend them sweeping the Giants.
It's going to happen.
The Reds have won six of their last nine games dating back to September 27th, Joey Votto is starting to find his swing again and Brandon Phillips is pacing the team out of the leadoff spot.
Additionally, the pitching staff has almost never looked better.
Following the loss of Johnny Cueto in Game 1 after just 10 pitches, the Reds pieced together Sam LeCure, Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman to beat the Giants 5-2. Workhorse Bronson Arroyo went seven innings in Game 2, allowing one hit and a walk en route to a 9-0 bashing of the Giants.
The Reds will carry this momentum into Game 3 and will sweep the Giants for several reasons.
First, the pitching.
I'll mention right now that Homer Bailey isn't that great in his career against the Giants, but Ryan Vogelsong isn't very good against the Reds either.
Since 2007, Bailey has started five games against the Giants, going 29 innings with a 5.59 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP and nearly as many earned runs (18) as strikeouts (19).
Vogelsong has pitched against the Reds 15 times, including eight starts.
In those eight starts he's pitched 51.1 innings with a 5.08 ERA and 1.62 WHIP with 43 strikeouts and 30 walks. Additionally, his peripheral stats against the Reds are some of the worst splits of his career, including a H/9 rate of 9.3, a K/9 rate of 7.5 and K/BB of 1.43.
The two obviously don't pitch well against each other's ball clubs, but Bailey is riding an all-time high right now and clearly had the best season of his Major League career.
In 2012, Bailey posted a 13-10 record with a 3.68 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, 168 strikeouts and 52 walks in 208 innings pitched. Bailey also had ratios of 3.2 K/BB and 7.3 K/9. Bailey hasn't allowed a run in either of his last two starts, one of those being his no-hitter against the Pirates just 11 days ago.
The Reds offense is also rolling of late.
The Reds have scored 14 runs in the first two games of the series.
That total is tied for the most through the playoffs with the St. Louis Cardinals. Although it's only been two games, a huge positive can be taken from the play of Brandon Phillips out of the leadoff position.
The one hole in the Reds lineup has been where batters have gone to die in 2012. In 703 at-bats, Reds leadoff batters produced a .208/.254/.327 slash line with 16 HR, 38 RBI and 83 runs scored.
They have only produced 51 extra-base hits compared to the three hole which has produced 63 doubles alone.
This spot in the lineup has been an issue all season long, but Brandon Phillips seems to have found his stroke there the last two games. Phillips is batting 5-for-10 in his last two games with a home run, a run and three RBI.
His three-run home run in Game 1 proved to be all the offense the Reds would need.
In Game 2, Phillips hit two doubles and, in turn, provided the Reds with two opportunities to knock him in. Although the Reds did not cash in, they really hadn't had many of these opportunities this season and it's a nice luxury to have.
Brandon Phillips' ability to get on base and provide some pop out of the leadoff spot has sparked the Reds offense. With Homer Bailey taking the mound tonight against a deflated Giants team, look for the Reds to complete the series sweep of the San Francisco Giants.