The Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros will meet in this year’s fall classic. At the beginning of the season, the Astros had the 4th-highest World Series odds, while the Phillies were 10th highest (Fangraphs). Below we see the top 10 World Series probabilities from before the season started.
The Astros have been dominant this year, finishing the regular season with an American League best 106-56 record. They’ve continued that into the postseason, winning all seven of their games. Although it’s not like it’s been an easy 7-0. Four of those seven have been by just one run. One of those was a walk-off 3-run homer down by 2 with 2 outs and another of those wins came 1-0 in an 18-inning marathon (both of those against Seattle).
The Phillies on the other hand finished the year with the worst record of any of the NL teams in the postseason. In a year where the playoffs expanded by one team in each league, that extra team that got in has made it to the World Series. The Phillies ended the regular season on a 11-game road trip (and went just 4-7 on that trip). But as soon as the playoffs began, they’ve caught fire. They’ve knocked off the Cardinals, Braves and Padres on their way to the World Series.
Strangely enough, these two teams met for the final three games of the regular season (October 3rd-5th). I doubt many expected that would be a World Series Preview, but here we are. The Astros took two of those three in Houston.
Below we see the expected statistics for the players of each team in this year’s playoffs.
Bryce Harper has been on another planet with his Power and On-Base in this year’s playoffs. He’s hitting .419 this postseason, with five Home Runs and 11 RBI! He hit the big-time homer to send the Phils to the World Series too. I can’t believe the Padres pitched to him as much as they did, the Astros would be smart to stay away from him as much as they can.
As for the Astros, there’s a cluster of guys you need to worry about. Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez have supplied the power, but Alex Bregman, Chas McCormick and Yuli Gurriel have been the table setters. Jose Altuve has struggled mightily from the leadoff spot during this playoff run. He’s hitting just .188, but he did have two hits in the Game 4 win over the Yankees.
The Astros’ hitting attack is really known for not striking out. Only the Guardians had a lower strikeout rate during the regular season (Phillies K% – 19.5%). The Phillies have been one of the streakier teams this year. In the second half alone, they had four different streaks of 5+ wins in a row. They also had two streaks of 5+ losses in a row. That streakiness really aligned with whether or not the Phillies lineup was hitting or not.
When we look at the starters, the Astros group has the edge. Below we see each start made by a pitcher on the Phillies and Astros this postseason.
What jumps out to me is with the exception of Noah Syndergaard’s 35 pitch start, the top four starts are all by the Astros, and by four different pitchers! Verlander had the one poor outing in Game 1 of the ALDS and McCullers struggled a bit in Game 4 of the ALCS, but outside of those two starts, this rotation has been great. The Houston rotation is much deeper than Philadelphia’s. Luis Garcia hasn’t even gotten a start for the Astros, yet he’d probably be the 3-starter for the Phillies. Philadelphia has been riding Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola as much as they can. That will likely continue in the World Series. With both teams having significant rest before the series, both teams will be able to set their rotations exactly how they want.
During the regular season, the Astros bullpen had the lowest ERA of any team at 2.80, whereas the Phillies finished 23rd in bullpen ERA (4.27). The Astros bullpen has continued that dominance in the playoffs; they’ve allowed just three runs (all on solo home runs allowed by three different pitchers). Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris have all appeared in five or more games. Expect to see those four a lot in the World Series. On the contrary, the Phillies bullpen has given up 15 runs this postseason (yes, they have played four more games than the Astros, but that’s still 1.36 runs a game for the Phillies bullpen vs 0.43 for the Astros.
So, on paper, the Astros have the better lineup, rotation and bullpen. What do the Phillies have? They have the hottest player in the world in Bryce Harper, they’re a streaky team that’s gotten hot at the right time and they have a fan base who wants it more. I’m sure the games in Houston will have a good atmosphere, but those games in Philadelphia are going to be wild!
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