Phillies (57-66) vs. Cincinnati Reds (75-49)

Last night's 5-4 loss was discouraging, not so much because it snapped the Phils three-game win streak, or knocked their second-half record to 20-16, or kept them from gaining ground on the Braves (lost to Washington) in the second wild card.

But it seemed to undo just about everything well they've done lately, given how it raised all of the same questions we thought (hoped?) they might've started answering.

Here's a few things to hope for tonight.

(Somebody) Caged The Vanimal

Vance Worley could really use a good night tonight.

He's only lasted six innings once in his last five starts (1-2, 6.03 ERA), and since posting a solid month of June (1-2, 2.70 ERA), he's completely fallen off in his last nine (2-4, 5.97 ERA). Once the talk of the baseball world for getting inexplicable strikeouts -- dude minted his own called third strikes -- it's almost as if Worley's lost his mojo, with just nine strikeouts in four starts this month.

Though it could also be that the bone chip in his elbow is bothering him, something Worley has adamantly denied and something about which Scott Proefrock said "there's no issue there."

Really hate to keep beating a dead horse -- or a live horse, or a live anything. But if Worley stumbles tonight -- a possibility, given how much worse he is at the Bank (2-4, 5.20 ERA) than elsewhere (4-4, 2.98 ERA), and how he's fared against Cincy in his short career (5.73 ERA in two starts) -- there's really no justification for keeping Tyler Cloyd in the minors.

Though the talk I'm hearing is that the organization would be totally fine with doing just that.

The Other Guy

Bronson Arroyo has basically been Cliff Lee lately, at least insofar as giving up home runs goes. He's allowed five home runs in his last four starts, three to Milwaukee. (See?)

Though, unlike the Phillies have Lee, the Reds bail him out. Arroyo is 6-2 in his last eight starts, all decisions. His numbers have slipped considerably in August (4.91 ERA, only one game score higher than 50) compared to July (2.64 ERA, 4-of-5), but the Reds have averaged 4.75 runs per game in said last eight, so it hasn't really mattered.

Lucky for the Phils, against them he's been horrendous (1-7, 7.28 ERA in 10 games, nine starts), and worse at the Bank (0-2, 18.00 ERA in three games, two starts) in his career.

Up Goes Frazier

Todd Frazier has absolutely beasted on the Phillies this series.

It's only been two games, but check out this line: 3-for-4 with two walks, two runs and an RBI, from his homer in last night's 5-4 loss that may seriously jeopardize Antonio Bastardo's career. Lethal.

Having a rookie season in concurrent with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper has got to be like being Usain Bolt's 100-meter sprinting stepbrother. Maybe not in the conversation for the best prospect in the last 30 years, but with 18 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .294/.351/.562/.913 slash line, Frazier's got to be up there for NL Rookie of the Year, if not MVP.

Lucky for the Phils, though, he's never seen Worley, who many figure has gotten figured out by big league hitters the second time around. The two haven't ever met, though Frazier's numbers don't dip notably against righties.

Wanna Piece?

In a word: Yeah.

How nice is it to do one of these and rave about a big name? Very, quite frankly.

Sure, the Erik Kratz and Kevin Frandsen and Nate Scheirholtz narratives have all been pretty sweet. But serving them up to Philadelphia is like serving elitist college basketball fans Northern Iowa. Loses its novelty after, well, however long it takes you to realize that the reason their stories are so feel-good is that we're hurting so bad for material from the household names.

Ryan Howard is giving us that. Finally.

Piece has gone 11-for-20 (.550) with a home run and five RBIs in his last six games, with a few timely hits sprinkled throughout. Not "Stop The Presses" type stuff. But worth noting, if only insofar as the immediacy of tonight's game goes.

Refreshing, to say the least.