World Series Preview: What to Watch For in the 2022 Fall Classic
With the Houston Astros facing off against the Philadelphia Phillies, it is finally time for the World Series. While not shocking that the Astros are here in the World Series once again, it is astonishing that the Phillies are left standing as National League Champions. Philadelphia grabbed the last wild card spot in the new playoff format and has shown everyone they want to win it all.
The Houston Astros are undefeated in the postseason, with a 7-0 record after running through the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees. In the divisional series, the Astros came from behind in both Games 1 and 2 against Seattle, and then clinched a spot in the ALCS with a solo shot from Jeremy Pena to give them a 1-0 win in the 18th inning. Houston completely dominated New York in the ALCS. Great pitching carried them to a four game sweep to be the last AL team remaining.
As for the Phillies, this team has fought until the end in every single game played this October. They swept the St. Louis Cardinals on the road in the Wild Card series before defeating the defending world champion Atlanta Braves. In front of their raucous home crowd, Philadelphia then beat the Padres in Game 5 to clinch a spot in the World Series.
Philadelphia has looked great on both ends: pitching and hitting. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola have completely put this team on its back when it comes to pitching, making quality starts that put less strain on the offense in big games. As for the hitting, this lineup has been very impressive. Hitters like Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber are showing everyone why they make the big bucks.
These two teams faced off in just one series this year and that came at the end of the regular season. Houston won the series 2-1. That doesn’t matter too much now as the Phillies are a much different team than the one Houston saw a mere three weeks ago. Houston has looked like the most complete team in baseball for a while now and will have to continue to prove it in this series.
Players to Watch
Bryce Harper – Obviously, Bryce is a player to look out for on the big stage, especially when it’s his first World Series appearance. Harper has just one walk in his last 38 plate appearances, making every at-bat difficult for pitchers in the NLDS and NLCS.
Zack Wheeler/Aaron Nola- These two aces have been dominating all season and are now continuing that in the playoffs, where it matters the most. Nola has started three games this postseason and has put up a 3.12 ERA, 1.096 WHIP, 18 Ks, and 3 walks. His last start in the NLCS did not go so well as he gave up 6 runs in just 4.2 innings. Nola gave up 0 runs in his previous two playoff starts.
Jeremy Peña- The rookie sensation has been very impressive this postseason, recently being selected as the ALCS MVP. He has had huge moments on the big stage, especially his go-ahead home run in the 18th inning to help Houston advance to the ALCS and sweep the Mariners. Then in the ALCS against the Yankees, Peña hit .353/.353/.824/1.176 (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS) along with 2 HR and 4 RBIs. His big hit in that series was a 3-run homer off Nestor Cortes in game four to tie the game at 3-3.
Framber Valdez – The second-hand man in this rotation has been dominant so far in the postseason and hopes to continue that in the World Series. In the ALDS, he made one start and put up a 3.18 ERA, giving up 2runs, 3 walks, and striking out six batters in 5.2 IP. Then in the ALCS, he was lights out against the Yankees throwing seven innings without yielding an earned run and striking out nine.
Potential Pitching Matchups
Note: These are not the OFFICIAL pitching matchups but this is how it should be depending on the game situations later on in the series.
Game 1, Friday 8:03 EST: Justin Verlander (HOU) vs Aaron Nola (PHI)
Game 2, Saturday 8:03 EST: Framber Valdez (HOU) vs Zack Wheeler (PHI)
Game 3, Monday 8:03 EST: Lance McCullers Jr (HOU) at Ranger Suarez (PHI)
Game 4, Tuesday 8:03 EST: Cristian Javier (HOU) at Noah Syndergaard (PHI)
Game 5 (If Necessary), Wednesday 8:03 EST: Justin Verlander (HOU) at Zack Wheeler (PHI)
Game 6 (If Necessary), Friday, Nov 4th 8:03 EST: Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) vs Aaron Nola (PHI)
Game 7 (If Necessary), Saturday, Nov 5th 8:03 EST: Framber Valdez (HOU) vs Ranger Suarez (PHI)