The Phillies head to Houston to take on the 106-win Astros tonight at 8 PM ET.
Watch Game 1 of the World Series tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox
Another year, another opportunity for the Houston Astros to further demolish the narrative that their run of success has been fueled by no-good, sign-stealin' tactics. Fuck, it's getting harder and harder to lean on that as a way to discredit them. They've become the New England Patriots of Major League Baseball; we KNOW they've cheated, they've been CAUGHT cheating, but goddamnit are they good, with or without the occasional shenanigans. Four World Series appearances in six years is just an undeniably great feat.
And then we have the Philadelphia Phillies, who squeaked into the playoffs based solely on the new format of 2022, which expanded to 12 teams instead of 10. You wouldn't know it based on how they're playing, though. The stars are shining brightly for them. The idea of a "team of destiny" is mostly nonsense, in my opinion. Mostly. The Phillies have had something magical about them since the postseason began.
First pitch of Game 1 of the World Series is tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox. Here's how I see this series playing out, based on who has the edge in various baseball-y things.
Not even remotely close. The Astros were the third best defensive team in MLB, based on Outs Above Average (OAA). Every guy in the field is a superb and skilled athlete. The Phillies on the other hand, are brutal. They'd be arguably the worst defensive team to ever win a World Series if they pulled it off. Turning to OAA again, they were the second worst defensive team in the Majors in 2022. Philly's three worst defenders (LF Kyle Schwarber, RF Nick Castellanos, and 1B Rhys Hoskins) are all major run-producers, so you can't take them out of the lineup. They'll just have to hope and pray that the funky confines of Houston's Minute Maid Park don't eat them alive.
The edge in the pitching department goes to the 'Stros as well, though the gap is nowhere near as large as it is on defense. Houston is, once again, among the best of the best, with the second lowest opposing batting average in 2022 and the lowest slugging percentage. The Phils are middle-of-the-road in these categories, but they've come on very strong in the playoffs, allowing just three runs per game. Houston has still been better...they've allowed a little over two runs per game.
There's a reason the Astros are undefeated in the playoffs, folks.
These teams are very close on the offensive side. The Phillies are hitting the ball a little bit better in the playoffs so far, while Houston did it a tad better in the regular season. Jose Altuve is a major x-factor, as he's been completely lost at the plate recently. If he can figure it out, the Astros are even more lethal. For the Phillies, the boppers have to continue to bop. Hoskins, Harper, and Schwarber have combined for 13 home runs through 11 playoff games, many of them in pivotal moments. Keep swinging a hot stick when it matters most, and you always have a chance.
It always helps to have been there. Rob Thomson has done a superb job leading the Phillies from a 22-29 record after the firing of Joe Girardi, all the way to the World Series. The 59-year-old has been around block, but this is his first time managing a Big League club. Dusty Baker on the other hand, has been there and done all but one thing: win the World Series. This is his third crack at taking home the Commissioner's Trophy after his Astros lost to the Braves last season and his Giants lost to the Angels in 2002. Such disparity in managerial experience, especially on the biggest stage, has to count for something.
Final Prediction: Astros in 5
A gentleman's sweep for H-Town. Sorry. I KNOW there's something about these Phils. But I have to trust my head here. There are just too many factors pointing towards Houston coming out on top. They simply have no flaws as a ballclub. That's why they won 106 games and swept their way to the World Series. 'Cause they're a juggernaut, and worse yet, an ANGRY juggernaut after the shit they've been put through by fans and players alike, all stemming from the cheating scandal. This team is out for total domination, and the Philadelphia Phillies are the last hurdle in their path.
Hoping for a competitive series. Maybe even a crazy upset. But not expecting it.