Philadelphia Phillies vs Houston Astros – 2022 World Series Preview
Line (to win the series): Astros -185; Phillies +160
Phillies vs Astros Overview
And here we are at the final hurdle of the 2022 MLB season as the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros get set to face each other for a seven-game series as the winners of the National and American League, respectively. The Phillies enter the World Series having defeated the San Diego Padres 4-1 in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) while the Astros come into the Series undefeated in the postseason thus far after sweeping the Yankees in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) 4-0.
Philadelphia Phillies Analysis
After all the dust has cleared in the National League pennant race, it wasn’t the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves, or New York Mets (the teams with the three best records in the NL) that earned a trip to the Series. No, instead it was the last team to make it into the NL playoffs as a wildcard with the Phillies clinching a postseason berth with about a week or so left in the season. With no one expecting them to even get out of the wild card round against St. Louis, they’ve shut out the noise and put themselves in a position to win their first championship since 2008.
So, how the heck did a wildcard team make it this far? It starts with that first wildcard series in St. Louis where they had to take on the hometown Cardinals in a best-of-three battle. Although St. Louis had a better record and won the NL Central, they could not figure out Philadelphia as the Phillies would win the first game by coming from behind in the top of the 9th and winning Game 2 with a 2-0 shutout to sweep the Cardinals. They would move on to the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS where they were expected to lose badly as many picked the Braves to win the Series. In their best-of-five series, Philadelphia had no problems with Atlanta, getting rid of them in four games. San Diego would be next. The Phillies only dropped a game to the Padres in a best-of-seven series, winning the NL pennant in five games.
The Phillies’ incredible run features contributions from all over the place, but it all starts with their most controversial and highest-paid player, Bryce Harper. Criticism has followed Harper for years from his days with the Washington Nationals to his poor start in Philadelphia when they signed him back in 2019 to a 12-year, $330 million contract. You read that right. Now, Harper has been arguably the best player in the entire playoffs as he’s batted .419 with 18 hits in 43 at-bats including five home runs and 11 RBIs. Zack Wheeler has been their best starter in the postseason, tossing 25.7 innings along with 25 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA. The Phillies’ pitching staff has a combined 3.06 ERA in the postseason.
Houston Astros Analysis
Houston is a team that a lot of experts predicted could win the World Series before the season began. With a 106-56 regular season record, the 2022 Astros could be in the debate for the greatest team ever if they finish off the Phillies in the final hurdle. Their postseason record of 7-0 speaks for itself showing that Houston was exactly who we thought they were when they secured the number-one seed in the AL with a few weeks left in the regular season. This is a team featuring future Hall of Famers like pitcher Justin Verlander and (most likely) second-baseman Jose Altuve. With head coach Dusty Baker still without a Series title, this could be the first not only for him but for an Astros team that hasn’t won it all since the 2017 cheating scandal.
Although the New York Yankees looked like the team to beat at the All-Star Break, they spiraled in the second half, an opportunity the Astros pounced on. With the number one seed, Houston waited for the winner of the wild card, hosting the Seattle Mariners for a three-game series. In what looked like a possible upset in Game 1, the Astros roared back behind Yordan Alvarez’s bottom-of-the-ninth walk-off three-run home run. After that, they never looked back and have run the table, sweeping the Mariners to set up another ALCS with the Yankees. With the two best AL records fighting for a chance to advance to the Series, New York was no contest for Houston who swept them under a rug with ease in four games.
The Astros have also had a lot of players provide great play in the postseason over their seven-game playoff winning streak. It’s hard to pick where to start but in addition to the clutch performances of Alvarez, rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena has been fantastic as well, especially against the Yankees. He’s batting .303 with 10 hits and three home runs but an incredible 22 total bases. First baseman Yuli Gurriel leads the team with a .367 postseason batting average while third baseman Lance Bregman is also hitting above .300 at .333. On the mound, it hasn’t been Verlander shining but rather Framber Valez who has a 1.42 ERA and has struck out 15 across 12.1 innings. Verlander has been surprisingly pedestrian with a 6.30 ERA in 10 innings while striking out 14.
Free Pick – Philadelphia +160
There’s no reason to beat around the bush and convince yourself that the Phillies are somehow the better team here because they’re not. The Astros won 106 regular season games. 106! The Phillies only won 87. So, why the hell would we be picking Philadelphia? It may seem farfetched but while the Astros are undefeated over seven postseason games, the Phillies are 9-2 in 11 playoff contests. Unlike Houston, Philadelphia has faced adversity already by losing Game 2 of both the Atlanta and San Diego series. It didn’t matter. They stormed right back and took care of business with all the confidence in the world. On top of that, no single player has been better than Harper in the playoffs. Their pitching isn’t outstanding but it’s gotten the job done when needed. Again, the Astros are the better team in this Series. But that doesn’t mean they’ll beat the Phillies. As great of a team as Houston is this season and in the playoffs, Philadelphia has had a far tougher road to get here and it should benefit them. We like Philadelphia in 5 games.