2022 World Series Preview

As October Baseball comes to a close, the Fightin’ Phils and the Steady Stros are set to clash

Paul Brady, Section Editor

Entering the 2022 MLB Postseason, the Dodgers, Astros, Braves, Mets, and Yankees were all expected to make admirable postseason pushes. On the contrary, the Astros are the one team left standing from the top-five-ranked squads. Houston has had an immaculate postseason thus far after sweeping the Mariners in a best-of-five series and the Yankees in a best-of-seven series. Their opponent in the Fall Classic won’t be the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers but rather the 87-win Philadelphia Phillies.

On paper, that’s a lucky draw, but the Phillies led by veteran slugger Bryce Harper feel unstoppable after defeating the San Diego Padres. Harper earned the NLCS MVP status after hitting a game-winning two-run home run off of Robert Suárez. As soon Harper’s bat made contact with Suárez’s 99 mph fastball, the Phillies crowd at Citizens Bank Park erupted with roars of jubilation. In the ninth inning, David Robertson walked two batters which forced Rob Thompson to bring in Ranger Suárez to get the final two outs. When Nick Castellanos caught Austin Nola’s fly ball to end the contest, the Phillies pounded their fists in the air and ran to the pitcher’s mound in celebration. Tons of fans around baseball will root for the underdog Phils as Bryce Harper and Zach Wheeler vie for their first World Series rings. Will Philadephia’s magical run continue or will the far superior team put the cherry on top of their flawless postseason?

Even though the Phillies are the inter-divisional rivals of my favorite team, the New York Mets, I’ve loved watching them pull off gutsy win after gutsy win in the last two weeks. That said, I will be joining the minority of baseball fans by rooting for the Houston Astros. The Astros are notorious for their cheating scandal in 2018, and now they have a chance to win a title without an asterisk next to it. I predict the Astros will win in five because there’s nothing the Phillies can do that the Astros can’t do better.

Let’s begin the comparison with starting pitching. The Phillies have their ace Zack Wheeler and the Astros have future Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander. Yes, Wheeler knows how to strike hitters out and is in his prime, but Verlander brings new meaning to the word “masterful”. There’s no comparison to be made here. With Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., and Cristian Javier to back up the 39-year-old flamethrower, the Phillies rotation of Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, and Noah Syndergaard seems less formidable.

The Astros have a clear edge with fielding too. Alec Bohm, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber are perhaps the worst defenders to take the field in this postseason. Rob Thompson will have to sacrifice their at-bats late in games to ensure costly runs aren’t let up in the field. Lastly, the Astros offensive depth is unbelievable. Trey Mancini, Michael Brantley, and Christian Vázquez are platoons at their respective positions. Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman in the three and four spots provide enough pop to out-slug the heart of the Phillies order in Harper, Hoskins, and Realmuto. The first pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 8:03 pm this Friday. Tune in to the Fox Sports Channel to see if my predictions were right.