Here are two things to know about baseball:
- The season is a marathon, not a sprint, and anything is possible over the course of the 6-month, 162-game regular season.
- Once the postseason starts, the season resets itself, every team playing has a record of 0-0, and what transpired during the regular season means absolutely nothing.
On June 1st, the New York Yankees and New York Mets were the talk of the baseball world. The Yankees were on pace to win 112 games and the Mets had a 10.5-game lead over the second-place Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East. There was a lot of talk about a potential World Series edition of the Subway Series.
As it turns out, the Yankees won 99 games and went 3-6 in the playoffs after being swept by the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. The Mets ended up playing in a Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres after the Braves won the N.L. East., and they were quickly eliminated from World Series contention as the Padres beat them in 3 games at home.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and New York Mets all won more than 100 games during the regular season. They were all amongst the favorites to win the World Series, and none of them won a playoff series.
The Yankees were the favorites in the American League at the All-Star Break with a record of 64-28, but went on to have a .500 record in the second half of the season, and looked overmatched in the ALCS.
The baseball season now comes down to the two teams who won each of those leagues, the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros.
World Series Overview
This year’s Fall Classic is between two teams that are on completely opposite paths. The Astros, who have won the American League in four of the last six seasons, have consistently been one of the best teams in baseball during that span. The Phillies reached the playoffs for the first time in eleven years and had the new playoff format not been implemented this year, they would not have been in the playoffs.
In a matchup between the number one seed from the American League, and the sixth and final seed from the National League, this year’s World Series will surely provide some great moments.
Let’s go back and look at how each team has performed so far this postseason.
In early June, the Phillies were 22-29, 12.5 games behind first place in their division, and fired their manager shortly thereafter. They are now four wins away from winning the organization’s first World Series since 2008.
A lot has gone into the team’s postseason success, and Bryce Harper, who the team calls “The Showman”, has been at the center of that success. Harper has put the team on his back this postseason. He is currently hitting .419/.444/.907 with 6 doubles and 5 home runs in 43 at-bats.
Here are some individual postseason statistics for the Phillies’ lineup outside of Harper:
The offense as a whole has been one of, if not the best, in the playoffs. They lead all playoff teams with 16 home runs, 23 doubles, a .442 slugging percentage, and 57 runs. Philadelphia is 2nd in batting average (.237), on-base percentage (.307), walks (31), and hits (82).
Their pitching staff has been led by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Wheeler has thrown 25.1 innings this postseason and has 25 strikeouts with a 1.78 ERA. Nola has pitched 17.1 innings with 18 strikeouts and a 3.12 ERA.
The back end of the bullpen has also been a strength for the Phillies. Jose Alvarado, Seranthony Dominguez, and Zach Eflin have all been called upon by manager Rob Thomson this postseason to get late inning outs, and have combined to pitch 22.0 innings, with 30 strikeouts and a 3.27 ERA.
Here are statistics for other Phillies’ pitchers from this postseason:
The Phillies have eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, and San Diego Padres, and have a postseason record of 9-2.
During this playoff run, there have been plenty of big moments for the Phillies. Here are just some of them:
- Jean Segura’s single in the top of the 9th in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series puts the Phillies in the lead
- Rhys Hoskins’ 3-run home run off Spencer Strider to put them ahead 4-0 in Game 3 of the NLDS
- J.T. Realmuto’s inside-the-park home run in Game 4 of the NLDS
- Bryce Harper’s double to give the Phillies a 7-6 lead in Game 4 of the NLCS
- Bryce Harper’s game-winning 2-run home run in Game 5 of the NLCS
It has been what many have called an improbable run so far for the Phillies. They are just four wins away from being World Champions, but one of the best teams in baseball, the Houston Astros, stands in their way.
Many people have criticized the new playoff format in Major League Baseball. The format, which gives the first two seeds in each league a bye in the Wild Card round, is in its first year, and many people feel the layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of the Division Series is too long.
Those who have been critical of the format don’t like the fact that the 89-win San Diego Padres and 87-win Philadelphia Phillies were the last two teams remaining in the National League. They feel as though had the Phillies and Padres faced the Braves and Dodgers without any kind of layoff, neither team would have been able to advance.
“The layoff is hurting these teams” is not a good argument when the Astros, who were the top seed in the A.L. this year and had a first-round bye, have had no issues winning games this postseason. In fact, they are currently 7-0 in postseason play.
Houston’s offense has been led by Alex Bregman and rookie shortstop, and ALCS MVP, Jeremy Pena. Bregman is hitting .333/.375/.600 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles, and Pena is slashing .303/.328/.667 with 3 home runs and 3 doubles.
Here’s how the rest of the Astros’ lineup has performed this postseason:
As a team, the Astros rank 3rd in batting average (.227), 4th in on-base percentage (.300), 3rd in slugging percentage (.408), 5th in doubles (10), 3rd in home runs (12), 3rd in hits (58), 4th in walks (20), and 3rd in runs (31) to this point in the postseason.
Houston’s pitching staff, to no surprise, has been very good in the playoffs. They have tossed 72.0 total innings, and have a 1.88 ERA.
Framber Valdez has been their best starter this October. He has started 2 games, and in 12.2 innings, has 15 strikeouts with a 1.42 ERA. Lance McCullers Jr. has also put together a solid pair of outings. He has pitched 11.0 innings, with 13 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA.
Justin Verlander, who could win the A.L. Cy Young Award this year, was hit around in his first postseason start. He allowed 6 runs in 4.0 innings in Game 1 of the ALDS but bounced back against the Yankees in the ALCS, where he threw 6.0 innings, giving up 1 run and striking out 11 batters.
The Houston bullpen was excellent this year, and their late-inning relievers have been lights out in the postseason. Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, and Bryan Abreu have combined to throw 17.0 innings, have allowed 1 run, and have 24 strikeouts. Pressly also has 5 saves in the postseason.
Here are some of Houston’s other pitchers and their numbers so far in the playoffs:
On their way to the World Series, the Astros have swept both the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, and just like the Phillies, they have had some pretty big moments.
- Yordan Alvarez’s 3-run walk-off home run in Game 1 of the ALDS
- Yordan Alvarez’s go-ahead 2-run home run in Game 2 of the ALDS
- Jeremy Pena’s game-winning solo home run in the 18th inning of Game 3 of the ALDS
- Alex Bregman’s 3-run home run in Game 2 of the ALCS
- Alex Bregman’s game-winning single in Game 4 of the ALCS
The last two times the Houston Astros were in the World Series, they faced off against N.L East teams, but were unable to win it all. Is the third time the charm for the Astros?
One of the best parts of the baseball season is the plays that secure a team’s chances to go to the World Series and seeing them celebrate on the field.
Here are how the Phillies and Astros advanced to the Fall Classic:
Schedule and Probable Starters:
This is the current schedule for the 2022 World Series:
|Game 1||Friday, October 28||Houston||8:03 PM EST|
|Game 2||Saturday, October 29||Houston||8:03 PM EST|
|Game 3||Monday, October 31||Philadelphia||8:03 PM EST|
|Game 4||Tuesday, November 1||Philadelphia||8:03 PM EST|
|Game 5 (if necessary)||Wednesday, November 2||Philadelphia||8:03 PM EST|
|Game 6 (if necessary)||Friday, November 4||Houston||8:03 PM EST|
|Game 7 (if necessary)||Saturday, November 5||Houston||8:03 PM EST|
This is how we could see the rotations line up to start the series:
|Game 1||Aaron Nola||Justin Verlander|
|Game 2||Zack Wheeler||Framber Valdez|
|Game 3||Ranger Suarez||Cristian Javier|
|Game 4||Noah Syndergaard||Lance McCullers Jr.|
|Game 5 (if necessary)||TBD||TBD|
|Game 6 (if necessary)||TBD||TBD|
|Game 7 (if necessary)||TBD||TBD|
Going into this series, both teams will be coming off of four days of rest after punching their ticket to play for a world championship on Sunday. This means they will be able to align their starting pitchers exactly how they want and will be able to come up with what they think is the best strategy to be the last team standing.
The Astros have gotten great performances out of all of their pitchers this October, and that will continue to be the key for them throughout the World Series. Philadelphia has been able to score plenty of runs this postseason. The Astros are going to have to find ways to get outs, especially against the top of the Phillies’ lineup, if they want to win it all.
The one thing to keep an eye on though, is that Houston does not currently have a lefty reliever in their bullpen. While they could add one to their World Series roster, how they choose to handle Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper, and the other lefty bats in the Phillies’ lineup once they remove their starting pitchers from the game will be interesting to monitor.
For the Phillies, the key in this series will also be how their pitchers perform against the Astros’ lineup. As a team, the Phillies have a 3.06 ERA. We have seen strong performances from Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Jose Alvarado, and Seranthony Dominguez this postseason. While the Phillies do need those guys to continue to pitch at a high level, they are going to need Ranger Suarez and the middle of their bullpen to step up big-time.
I think this is going to be a series where runs are going to be hard to come by. The Astros have an elite rotation and bullpen, and the top of the Phillies’ rotation and the relievers in the back of their bullpen have been hard to hit. Both of these teams have been able to hit the long ball this postseason, and whichever pitching staff can keep the ball in the ballpark, will give their team an advantage.
The Astros are perfect so far this postseason, and the Phillies have yet to lose a game at home. If Philadelphia can split the first two games of this series, and go back to Citizens Bank Park for three straight games with the series tied 1-1, they might become World Champions for the first time in fourteen years.
While I like what the Phillies have done so far, I think Houston might be too hard to handle over the course of a best-of-seven series. Yes, anything can happen in baseball, but the longer this series goes, I believe we will see the Astros clearly have the better depth, and are the better team.
I think Philadelphia puts up a great fight, but I am picking the Houston Astros to win the 2022 World Series in six games.
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