Phillies observations and thoughts heading into World Series showdown with Astros

PHILADELPHIA — Supply was low and the party was just getting started Sunday night. Nobody had noticed it yet. But someone is always behind the scenes to watch. A Phillies the clubhouse employee pushed a tray cart with a towering stack of beer cases into the middle of the room.

Everyone applauded.

In the weeks since the Phillies altered the course of the entire organization with a postseason streak that may be unprecedented in its unexpectedness, there have been small moments to appreciate the craziness of all of this. It may be a nod in passing. Quick interaction with no words exchanged, just an understood look. Can you believe that? Sometimes it’s a look and a raised eyebrow.

JT Realmuto stood by that Sunday beer cart and basked in it all. He took a drink. He is the sport’s highest-paid receiver and had never made the playoffs until October. Now he was going to the World Series. The 2022 Phillies will always walk together – no matter what happens against Houston.

But that journey to eternal greatness had come closer. Four more wins.

“Incredible, man,” Realmuto said.

There was nothing else to say. The Phillies rested Monday and Tuesday. They will practice Wednesday morning at Citizens Bank Park, then fly to Houston for the 118th Fall Classic. They have played 173 games since opening day on April 8. It takes more than talent to still be standing.

With around 60 hours until the start of the World Series, here are some observations and thoughts on the Phillies.

Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto and company celebrate after winning the NLCS. (Bill Streicher / USA Today)

Aaron Nola was going to start the next game the Phillies played in the National League Championship Series, so it makes sense that he would start Game 1 of the World Series. (Realmuto, in fact, said Nola was in consideration for the role of closer to emergency than Ranger Suárez filled in Game 5. But Nola said he was unaware of this and did not carry his spikes in the dugout.) Regardless, starting Nola on Friday, the ninth day since his last throw, allows for a extra day for Zack Wheeler.

He probably needs it. The Phillies haven’t pushed Wheeler past the 90-throw mark since his first playoff start against Saint Louis. He lost speed in the last heats of his outings. It’s not surprising; those starts are emotional and Wheeler, like any pitcher, has more juice early on. Playoff pitches demand a different level of stress on the body. Wheeler allowed five runs in 25 1/3 innings with 25 strikeouts on three walks. He is on an incredible run. If an extra day makes her feel 2% better, it’s worth it.

There are bigger concerns when it comes to the series. If Nola starts Game 1, that means he’s coming back for Game 5 while Wheeler would enter Game 6.

Would the Phillies consider either of them on short rest for Games 4 and 5? Probably not. Now, if Nola pitches Game 5 and there is Game 7, he could be in the game for a few innings because he would have two days between those appearances. Neither Nola nor Wheeler have ever thrown a short rest.

But, if the Phillies are so close to a championship, the past doesn’t matter.

It would be surprising if the Phillies changed their roster from the NLCS to the World Series, but it might be worth having a conversation about. Brad’s hand. The Astros, like the fathers, have a dangerous left-handed hitter looming in the middle of their lineup. The hand was there to John Soto in the middle of the sleeve. It didn’t always work well. Hand, at times, looked like a pitcher who knew he had no swing-and-miss stuff in the zone and was afraid to throw strikes. It’s hard to trust him against the Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez.

In the final round, the Phillies added left-hander Cristopher Sánchez to their taxi squad. He wasn’t with the Phillies during the NLDS; he was working with the “stay ready” group in Clearwater, Florida. The team wanted him close in the NLCS. They always liked the idea of ​​Sánchez as a traditional reliever. He spent most of the season bouncing between rotation and bullpen roles.

Could Sánchez be in play for the World Series? It would be a huge risk; he hasn’t pitched in a game since Oct. 1. Sánchez has a powerful lead like the Phillies. It was promising ground for him in the majors. And, there’s this: Alvarez hit .283 with a .396 hitting percentage against left-handed pitching pellets. There are very few ways to put down Alvarez’s power grab, but this is one.

Maybe the Phillies are more confident in Connor Brodon, whose switch was a weapon against left-handed hitters all season. (They hit .217 with a .304 hitting percentage against him.) Only problem: Alvarez hit .339 with a .898 hitting percentage from the right-handers’ changes in 2022.

He can change a series, and it’s a tough game no matter who’s on the mound.

It will be time to take a step back and assess the meaning of this October once the end has been written. Even so, the ripple effects are immense.

Consider this: The Phillies, in a flash, have garnered tremendous interest in their team, which will lead to an influx of money through merchandise and ticket sales. The subscription base for 2023 will be larger. The fan base has connected with the personalities of this team who are locked into the roster for the foreseeable future. Young players, even if they haven’t always factored in playoff success, are living it. They will carry those moments with them for the rest of their careers.

And, as a manager, Rob Thomson helped create a relaxed culture it looks quite fun, there are players sitting at home who might want to be a part of it. The Phillies will be big spenders again this winter. They’ll have a bullpen to build, a midfield spot to fill, and maybe a rotation spot or two. Philadelphia is an attractive destination right now.

Yes, this deep race will probably expand Bryce HarperThe absence of early 2023 after managing everything he needs to manage this offseason to repair his right elbow so he can play on the right court again. Does anyone with the Phillies care right now? No.

Andrew Painter, the organization’s top prospect who reached Double A as a 19-year-old starter, was among the crowd at Citizens Bank Park this weekend. He had to go to Philadelphia for a routine medical appointment.

He told the Phillies he wanted to come to the games. He brought his father.

“Playoff baseball in Philadelphia is an atmosphere that you have to witness in person to fully grasp,” Phillies director of player development Preston Mattingly said. “We are delighted that Andrew was able to experience it first hand.”

The Phillies have big ideas for Painter in 2023. They expect him to consider big league plans at some point — maybe sooner rather than later.

Reaching the World Series is an organizational triumph, and the Phillies have always treated it as such. The team will pay for every non-Philadelphia-based full-time employee to travel to town for games 3-5 at Citizens Bank Park. They will receive two tickets for each match. Each full-time Philadelphia-based employee will be offered airfare and tickets to Games 1-2 in Houston. The club’s traveling party in Texas will have more than 400 people.

Many of those employees — whether from the Florida team complex or international operations or scouting staff — have been helping out in their small ways.

Before the playoffs started, the Phillies rounded up their scouts and assigned them to track potential opponents. Each team advances scouting ahead of the playoffs. Often these assignments come to nothing as the team is eliminated or the specific match never materializes. It is a different form of scouting; they do not rate players but, instead, look for trends, tells, or anything else that might not show up in the data or on the video.

The Phillies had three scouts who stalked San Diego for weeks looking for the tiniest details that could possibly be exploited in a seven-game series. These scouts – Erick Dalton, Brad Sloan and Dan Wright – met with Thomson and his coaches before the NLCS to review their reports and map out a strategy. The same thing, with different scouts following Houston since late September, will happen this week.

This end of the season, everyone is needed.

(Zack Wheeler top photo: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

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