World Series Preview: Astros vs. Phillies

Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock (13495195c) Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) during Game 4 of an American League Championship baseball series against the New York Yankees, in New York Astros Baseball, New York, United States – 23 Oct 2022

World Series Preview: Astros vs. Phillies

The Matchup:

Houston Astros (106-56, 7-0 postseason) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (87-75, 9-2 postseason)


Game 1: Friday, October 28, 2022, at Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX. 7:03 p.m. CT

Pitching Matchup: Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.12 ERA postseason) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 6.30 ERA postseason)

Game 2: Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX. 7:03 p.m. CT

Pitching Matchup: Zack Wheeler (1-1, 1.78 ERA postseason) vs. Framber Valdez (1-0, 1.42 ERA postseason) (Valdez has not yet been officially announced by Astros)

Game 3: Monday, October 31, 2022, at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA. 7:03 p.m. CT

Pitching Matchup: TBD

Game 4: Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA. 7:03 p.m. CT

Pitching Matchup: TBD

Game 5: Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA. 7:03 p.m. CT*

Pitching Matchup: TBD

Game 6: Friday, November 4, 2022, at Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX. 7:03 p.m. CT*

Pitching Matchup: TBD

Game 7: Saturday, November 5, 2022, at Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX. 7:03 p.m. CT*

Pitching Matchup: TBD

* – if necessary.

TV/Radio: FOX (KRIV-TV Fox 26 Houston), KBME 790 AM & 94.5 FM HD-2 (local Astros radio broadcast), KFNC 97.5 FM (national ESPN Radio call), ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3 FM & KLAT 1010 AM (Spanish).

For the Astros: Houston is seeking its second World Series title in franchise history, having won its first in 2017. The Astros are making their fourth World Series appearance in the last six seasons and second in a row. Houston won the AL West and had the best overall record in the American League.

Justin Verlander (18-4, 1.75 ERA) is expected to win his third Cy Young award. Should he do so, he will have scored the award in his last two full seasons, after he made just one start in 2020 before requiring Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2021. Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.82 ERA) was an All-Star this season. Lance McCullers Jr. returned from injury on August 13 and posted a 2.27 ERA in eight regular season starts, finishing 4-2. Cristian Javier (11-9, 2.54 ERA) and his 11.7 K/9 were the highest among Astros starters and third highest on the team, behind closer Ryan Pressly (12.1) and reliever Bryan Abreu (13.1). The Astros bullpen posted a league-best 2.80 ERA, and in the postseason, has a ridiculous 0.82 ERA in seven games, allowing only three earned runs in that span.

Offensively, Houston is led by LF/DH Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez finished second in the AL in OPS (1.019), SLG (.819), OBP (.406), third in HR (37), and fourth in AVG (.306). 2B Jose Altuve also had a very strong offensive season, batting .300 (8th in AL), finishing fourth in the AL in OPS (.921), third in SLG (.533), fourth in OBP (.387).

For the Phillies: The Phillies are seeking their third World Series title and first since 2008. This is their first trip to the postseason since 2011. The Phillies’ 87 wins in 2022 are their highest total since 2011.

Philadelphia’s rotation is anchored by the 1-2 combination of right-handers Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82 ERA) and Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA). The Phillies bullpen was 23rd in ERA during the season at 4.27 but has been much better in the postseason (3.19).

At the plate, the Phillies have several hitters who can mash, led by the reigning NL MVP and this year’s NLCS MVP RF/DH Bryce Harper. Limited to 99 regular season games due to injury, Harper posted a slash line of .286/.364/.513 with 18 HR, 65 RB, and 11 SB. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is arguably the best-hitting catcher in the game, coming off a 20 home run and 20 stolen base season where he hit .276 with an .820 OPS and 84 RBI. Free agent signee LF Kyle Schwarber launched 46 HRs in his first year in Philly.

Who’s HOT for the Astros:

1B Yuli Gurriel: .367 AVG, .933 OPS, 2 HR, 3 RBI

3B Alex Bregman: .333 AVG, .975 OPS, 2 HR, 7 RBI

SS Jeremy Pena: .303 AVG .990 OPS, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 7 Runs

SP Framber Valdez: 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10.7 K/9

SP Cristian Javier: 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 9.5 K/9

CL Ryan Pressly: 0-0, 4 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.5 K/9

Who’s NOT for the Astros:

2B Jose Altuve: .094 AVG (3-32), .171 OBP, .296 OPS

IF/DH Aledmys Diaz: .071 AVG (1-14), .133 OBP, .276 OPS

OF/DH Trey Mancini: .000 AVG (0-12), .133 OBP, .133 OPS

Who’s HOT for the Phillies:

RF/DH Bryce Harper: .419 AVG, .444 OBP, 1.351 OPS, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 10 Runs

SP Zack Wheeler: 1-1, 1.78 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 8.9 K/9

SP Ranger Suarez: 1-0, 1 SV, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.0 K/9

RP Seranthony Dominguez: 1-0, 1 SV, 1.17 ERA, 0.39 WHIP, 17.6 K/9

Who’s NOT for the Phillies:

3B Alec Bohm: .189 AVG, .262 OBP, .270 SLG, .532 OPS

CF Brandon Marsh: .154 AVG, .214 OBP, .346 SLG, .560 OPS

SS Bryson Stott: .200 AVG, .273 OBP, .333 SLG, .606 OPS

SP/RP Zach Eflin: 0-0, 1 SV, 5.68 ERA, 1.58 WHIP

Astros Player to Watch:

2B Jose Altuve: Altuve set a postseason record for futility this season, starting the playoffs 0-for-25 before getting his first hit in Game 3 of the ALCS versus the Yankees and former teammate Gerrit Cole. It was the second longest hitless streak in a single postseason only to Robinson Cano’s 0-for-29 with the Yankees in 2012. Altuve was then 2-for-4 with a walk and a pair of runs in Game 4.

Historically, when Altuve has a cold streak, he follows it with an insanely hot streak. The fact Altuve was ice cold for the first two rounds of the postseason and the Astros are 7-0 speaks volumes to the depth of Houston’s lineup. Altuve appears primed for a big breakout on the biggest stage. Usually, as goes Jose Altuve, so goes the Astros. If Altuve is hot at the plate, this series could be over quick.

Phillies Player to Watch:

DH Bryce Harper: Harper has been on absolute fire in the postseason, and his clutch home runs are impressive. He’s also the only regular in the Phillies lineup, hitting over .257 in the postseason. The Phillies have power up and down the lineup, with guys like Rhys Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber, and J.T. Realmuto, but Harper is the key.

Prediction: ASTROS in 6

The Phillies cannot match the Astros in the rotation or the bullpen over a seven-game series, so they have to win at the plate. Bryce Harper must continue to play like his 2022 NLCS MVP self, or the Phillies will have very little chance of upsetting the Astros.

The Phillies are currently red hot, but it’s highly unusual for an underdog-type team to be scorching hot in the playoffs and maintain that after a long layoff before the World Series (prime example: Colorado Rockies in 2007). They have to win with their offense, and the idea of beating up the Astros pitching staff four times in seven games doesn’t seem possible.

The Astros pitching depth is the best in baseball, giving them the biggest advantage in the series. The longer the series goes, the bigger the advantage becomes. I would be far more surprised if the series goes seven than if it goes five. 

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