Phillies (57-67) vs. Cincinnati Reds (76-49)

A series push here would really be nice.

Not only because it would further the Phillies winning ways (by 2012 standards, at least) since the All-Star Break (7-3-1 in second-half series) but keeping up with the Reds (10-1-1) would be the exactly the type of moral victory the team could use right about now...in a season where, yes, moral victories actually count for something.

Speaking of moral victories...

Cole On The Campaign Trail

Today, Cole Hamels' Cy Young chops are pretty humble.

In the National League, he's third in WAR (4.0) and sixth in wins (14), but doesn't even crack the top 10 in ERA (11th, with a 2.94). Two Washington Nationals (Zimmerman, Strasburg) and three San Francisco Giants (Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong) would have a better shot if votes were cast today.

But they're not cast today.

It would have to be a spectacle -- thinking shutout eight innings, as many or more strikeouts -- but Cole could start making his case for the Cy Young serious.

Given his track record against the Reds (7-0, 1.44 ERA in nine starts) and how he's fared since inking that six-year, $144 million extension (3-1, 1.38 ERA in four games) that's not totally out of the realm.

Plus, he'd also match a career high with wins, at 15 (went 15-5 in 2007), which I'm thinking makes cutting checks for his new pay grade a little easier.

He's had issues with letting up the long ball, though, allowing 10 in his last nine starts, something the Reds have proven capable of.

The Other Guy

Biggest reason tonight can pad his candidacy? Because of that of the guy he's facing, Johnny Cueto (16-6, 2.44 ERA), who's third in the NL in overall WAR (5.4), first among pitchers (5.6) and first in ERA (2.44) and wins (16).

Basically, tonight is Tide-Gators in the 2010 SEC Championship, Hamels is Mark Ingram and Cueto is Tebow. (Though I'm not sure Tebow would ever kick anyone in the face.)

Somebody's bound to have a signature moment.

Though it could be Cueto, who's won six of his last seven (2.55 ERA) with eight or more strikeouts in four.

Or not. Cueto is, after all, but 1-2 with a 5.65 ERA in five starts lifetime against the Phillies.

Or not not, considering what Bronson Arroyo did last night (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 K, perfect through four innings) versus the norm (0-6, 9.46 ERA in his last seven regular season starts).

Needing Relief

Back to the big picture: Hamels might actually be the best remedy for a Phils 'pen that's held up about as well as this guy's face this series.

Hamels has gone seven or more innings in 10 of his last 11, and in each of his last four.

Plus, the Phils tapped out Michael Schwimer (7.04 ERA in August) for Jeremy Horst (1.06 ERA in 2012, activated from paternity leave) Thursday.

Hark.