The Philadelphia Phillies are back in the World Series. Their improbable postseason run has carried them all the way to the fall classic for a date with the juggernaut Houston Astros. Philadelphia won the NL pennant in five games over the San Diego Padres while the Houston Astros swept the New York Yankees in the ALCS and will enter this series undefeated in postseason play.

In fact, the last time the Astros lost a game was on October 3rd. That was the game in which Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the 7th inning and the Phillies won to clinch their first postseason berth since 2011. It’s fitting that this magical run can end where it started. However, the Phillies will have a tough task ahead of them in Houston. The Astros won 106 games this season and have been in the World Series four of the last six years. Houston won the only regular season series of the two after dropping that first game. 


Game 1- Friday, 10/28, 8:03 PM, FOX

Philadelphia @ Houston

Game 2- Saturday 10/29, 8:03 PM, FOX

Philadelphia @ Houston

Game 3- Monday, 10/31, 8:03 OM, FOX

Houston @ Philadelphia

Game 4- Tuesday, 11/1, 8:03 PM, FOX

Houston @ Philadelphia

Game 5 (if necessary)- Wednesday, 11/2, 8:03 PM, FOX

Houston @ Philadelphia

Game 6 (if necessary)- Friday, 11/4, 8:03 PM, FOX

Philadelphia @ Houston

Game 7 (if necessary)- Saturday, 11/5, 8:03 PM, FOX

Philadelphia @ Houston


Phillies Rotation

Aaron Nola will take the ball in Game 1 with Zack Wheeler getting the nod in game two. The pair have combined for a 3-2 record with a 2.32 ERA in 42.2 IP this postseason. As mentioned above, Nola threw 6.2 perfect innings against the Astros just over three weeks ago and finished with 9 strikeouts and two hits allowed. Wheeler pitched in the deciding game of the NLCS and went 6 IP with 2 runs on 3 hits with 8 K’s. 

Ranger Suárez pitched in that clinching Game 5 as well, except he came out of the bullpen to get the last two outs in the ninth. As a starter, he’s thrown a total of 8.1 innings and allowed two earned runs. Suárez will start the first game at home for the Phillies in Game 3 on Halloween night. He faced the Astros in that regular season series the day after Nola and had his worst start of the season. Suárez allowed six runs on seven hits including three home runs in just 3 IP. 

The fourth game will once again be up in the air between Bailey Falter and Noah Syndergaard and the bullpen. Syndergaard’s start against the Braves in the NLDS went well. Falter’s start against the Padres in the NLCS did not. Falter failed to get out of the first inning and recorded just two outs before giving up four runs on three hits. The Phillies managed to win the game 10-6 thanks to their offense and a strong showing from their bullpen including Syndergaard later in the game. 

Phillies Lineup

Not enough can be said about the postseason that Bryce Harper is having right now. He hit .400 in the NLCS with five extra-base hits and three home runs. He capped off the series with a dramatic two-run homer to the opposite field to give the Phillies the lead in the eighth and send them to the World Series. They will need Harper to be the MVP once again to beat the Astros elite pitching.

Harper and his heroics overshadowed the fantastic series at the plate from Rhys Hoskins as well. He may have had only four hits, but all four were home runs and three of them were two-run home runs. He became the sixth player in franchise history and the first since Chase Utley in 2009 to have a multi-home run game in the postseason. 

Similar to Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber struggled against the Braves but came alive against the Padres. He slugged three home runs and got on base in 12 of 21 plate appearances. His lead-off home run in Game 3 set the tone early for the Phillies against a tough starter in Joe Musgrove who was having an excellent postseason.

The Phillies offense at home this postseason is one of the biggest reasons they are where they are. They’ve routinely churned through opposing team’s starting pitchers and have scored 35 runs in 5 home games and clubbed 12 home runs. Citizens Bank Park has been a definitive home field advantage as evidenced by the Phillies undefeated record there this postseason. 

Phillies Bullpen

Seranthony Dominguez had his first poor outing of the postseason, as he uncorked three wild pitches in the eighth inning of Game 5 in poor weather conditions that helped give the Padres the lead. It’s likely the rain was affecting him, but nevertheless, the Phillies need the Dominguez who was untouchable earlier in the postseason.

Philadelphia’s bullpen as a whole has stepped up tremendously this postseason. That sentiment does not include Brad Hand, however. The left hander has been a disaster in October, posting a 7.36 ERA in five appearances. His hit-batsman in San Diego was the catalyst for the Phillies disastrous fifth inning in Game 2. Simply put, Hand cannot be trusted even to get one left-handed batter out as he was then against Jake Cronenworth. It’s to be determined if he will even be on the World Series roster. 

Phillies X-Factor- Nick Castellanos

Castellanos has had a few moments, but overall, he’s having a quiet offseason. He’s hitting .220 with a .586 OPS in 11 games. His habit of swinging at the first pitch has been debilitating. He’s hit into two double plays in four opportunities. Castellanos has been hitting fifth behind Harper. The Phillies will need him to step up as the Astros will no doubt work to limit the number of hittable pitches thrown to Harper. Castellanos doesn’t need to be the MVP, but he does have to work counts and be an actual threat with runners in scoring position. 

Astros Rotation

This Astros team has many strengths, but their starting pitching is perhaps their biggest. Their rotation led the Majors in fWAR (19.4) and was second in ERA (2.95). Their ace, Justin Verlander, led the Majors in ERA at 1.75 and is the favorite to win a third Cy Young Award. Verlander was roughed up in his first postseason start this year against Seattle but was dominant in his second against the Yankees. The 39-year-old went six innings against New York and allowed one run on three hits with 11 strikeouts. Verlander started against the Phillies the day after they clinched a playoff berth in Houston on a limited pitch count and went five no-hit innings with 10 punchouts. 

Behind Verlander is breakout star Framber Valdez. The left-hander is a ground ball machine, posting a 67% GB rate in 201.1 IP this season. Valdez led the league in quality starts with 26 in 31 opportunities and had a 2.82 ERA. He pitched seven innings and allowed two unearned runs on four hits with 9 Ks against the Yankees in the ALCS. 

Lance McCullers was the man on the mound for that drought ending game for Philadelphia in early October. He allowed a leadoff home run to Kyle Schwarber but finished allowing just that run over 6 IP with 5 Ks. McCullers made just 8 starts this season due to injury but finished with a 2.27 ERA in 47.2 IP. He’s made two starts this postseason, shutting out the Mariners in 6 IP in the first and allowing 4 runs on 8 hits to the Yankees in the second. 

Embarrassment of Riches

After those three, it’s decision time for Dusty Baker. The Astros have two more quality starters in Cristian Javier and Luis Garcia to choose from. One could start while the other comes out of the bullpen. Javier will most likely get the nod to start, as he was dominant in his only postseason start this season. The 25-year-old allowed one hit over 5.1 IP in New York with 5 K’s. Javier appeared in 30 games this season with 25 starts and had a 2.54 ERA in 148.2 IP and an eye-popping 11.7 strikeouts per nine. 

Astros Lineup

The Astros lineup is very deep, but their biggest piece is Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez is arguably the most underrated hitter in the game, as he owns a career .973 OPS in four seasons and is still just 25 years old. However, he’s been relatively quiet in the postseason save his dramatic three-run walk-off blast against the Mariners in Game 1 of the ALDS. 

Jose Altuve as well is having a brutal postseason at the plate despite the Astros winning. He’s 3-36 and went hitless for 25 straight at-bats to start the postseason, the second most all time. Altuve still has plenty of career experience in October, as he holds a career .853 OPS across 86 postseason games with 23 home runs.

Alex Bregman has shouldered much of the load for the struggling Altuve. He set a postseason record this year for most career home runs as a third baseman with 14 in 80 career games. Bregman has 4 XBHs and two home runs in 7 postseason games this October and is hitting .400. 

Besides Bregman, rookie Jeremy Peña is emerging as a postseason hero. After a pedestrian regular season where he slashed .253/.289/.426, Peña has exploded in the postseason. He’s hitting .303 with a .990 OPS with 3 HRs and 3 doubles. Peña victimized the Yankees in the ALCS with four XBHs including two home runs and drove in four runs in four games. The rookie earned ALCS MVP honors for his efforts. 

Astros Bullpen

Much like their rotation, the Houston bullpen is loaded with talent and an embarrassment of riches. They led MLB in bullpen ERA (2.80), and K/9 (10.45) and were tied for second in fWAR (7.6). But one odd weakness is they did not have a left-handed reliever on their ALCS roster and quite possibly won’t for the World Series either. Nevertheless, they’ve allowed just three runs in 33 combined innings this postseason, all of which were solo home runs. 

The Houston ‘pen is anchored by closer Ryan Pressly. Pressly has not allowed a run and has allowed only two hits in 5.1 IP this postseason after posting a 2.98 ERA and 33 saves in 50 regular season appearances. Opponents had an expected batting average of .159 and expected slugging of .209 against Pressley’s slider in the regular season.

The Phillies will see a familiar face among the Astros relievers in their former closer Héctor Neris. Neris led all Astros relievers in fWAR (1.6) in his first season in Houston with a 3.72 ERA in 70 games. The former Phillie has appeared in five games this postseason and has allowed one run on one hit and struck out five. 

Jose Abreu has been electric this season for the Houston bullpen. He’s struck out 10 of the 24 hitters he’s faced and has allowed three hits and two walks. Abreu has yet to be charged a run this postseason either. He’s just another of elite bullpen arms the Astros can deploy at any moment to shorten games. 

X-Factor- Yuli Gurriel

Gurriel is making up for a poor season with a strong postseason. He’s hitting .367 with a .934 OPS and two home runs in seven games. Houston first basemen were 29th in the league in fWAR and OPS in the regular season. The Astros acquired Trey Mancini at the deadline to try and unseat Gurriel as the primary first baseman. However, he too struggled and is 0-12 in the postseason. Gurriel has seized the job in October and has given even more length to a deadly lineup. 


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