Phillies return to World Series in simulated season

The 2020 simulated season has been a good one for the Phillies. The simulation, using Out Of The Park Baseball 21, had the Phillies going 39-21 in the regular season. Philadelphia reclaimed its place as the NL East Champions and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. In the NLDS, the Phillies took revenge on the St. Louis Cardinals, who knocked the Phillies out in the 2011 NLDS, by winning the series 3-2.

Phillies starting pitchers carried the team through the NLDS. As a staff, they pitched a combined 31.2 innings while allowing eight runs and striking out 37. Aaron Nola proved himself as the Phillies’ ace, allowing two runs in seven innings in both Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLDS. Jake Arrieta and Spencer Howard did not allow any runs scored in their starts. Zack Wheeler was hit for four runs in his start, but made up for it with a clutch save in Game 5 to push the Phillies onward.

The Phillies will face off with the Cincinnati Reds in for National League Pennant. The Reds, 34-27, defeated the San Diego Padres in a tiebreaker match for the second NL Wild Card slot. They rode that momentum into the Wild Card game when they defeated the Atlanta Braves 2-0. Cincinnati then traveled to Los Angeles to face the 42-18 Dodgers. The Reds defeated the Dodgers 3-1, holding them to only one run in the final two games of the series.

Trevor Bauer has only allowed one run in 15 IP during the postseason, including an 8-inning shutout against the Braves. The Reds have been led offensively by Joey Votto, who batted .313 with two home runs so far in the postseason. Derek Dietrich also rejoins the Reds’ offense following a two-week IL trip due to back tightness. Dietrich had a strong 2020 campaign, batting for a .319 average with a 1.043 OPS.

NLCS Game 1

After having used both Nola and Wheeler in Game 5 of the NLDS, the Phillies turned to Spencer Howard to open the NLCS. The Reds matched him against Luis Castillo, who was blown out in the Reds’ only loss against the Dodgers 7-0.

After a scoreless first inning, Sir Didi Gregorius broke the ice in the NLCS, smacking a solo home run in the bottom of the second. Howard cruised through the Reds’ batting order allowing only one hit in the first three innings. At the top of the fourth, he allowed Dietrich to reach on a leadoff walk. Dietrich would eventually tie the game 1-1, scoring on a single from Eugenio Suarez.

The Phillies would respond quickly, however, in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs and two runners on, Scott Kingery slapped a double into left field, scoring Andrew McCutchen and Nick Williams. Roman Quinn followed Kingery with a double of his own, scoring Kingery and giving the Phillies a 4-1 lead.

Howard only allowed one additional baserunner as he cruised through seven innings of eight-strikeout work. J.T. Realmuto scored Nick Maton on an RBI-single in the bottom of the seventh to increase the lead to 5-1. With an extra insurance run on the board, the Phillies turned to the bullpen, calling on David Robertson in the eighth. Robertson had an effective eighth inning before coming back out in the ninth. He struck out Nick Castellanos and walked Suarez before being replaced by Vince Velasquez. Vinny Velo struck out the remaining two batters, securing the Phillies’ 5-1 victory in Game 1.

NLCS Game 2

Jake Arrieta and Trevor Bauer faced off in Game 2. The long ball hurt Arrieta early on as the Reds hit a two-run home run in both the first and second inning. Suarez hit the home run in the first while Christian Colon knocked his in the second. Arrieta pitched at a 4-0 deficit until the bottom of the fifth when Nick Maton batted in Scott Kingery on an RBI-single. The Phillies would fail to get any more runs across in the inning, however, leaving Arrieta with a 4-1 deficit. Arrieta pitched six innings of four-run baseball, allowing seven hits and two walks while only striking out one.

Bauer pitched into the bottom of the seventh before being taken out following a Mike Zunino walk. Zunino then advanced to third on a double before scoring on a wild pitch. Reds reliever Joel Kunel then shut down Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, preventing any additional runs.

Shogo Akiyama increased the Reds’ lead with a solo home run in the top of the ninth, giving closer Rasiel Iglesias a 5-2 lead to work with. Iglesias struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, tying the series at 1-1 as the series shifted to Cincinnati.

NLCS Game 3

With the series tied at 1-1, the Phillies looked to ace Aaron Nola to give the Phillies the lead in the series. Nola didn’t allow a base runner until the third inning, when Christian Colon hit a lead-off single. The Reds bunted him over to second base before Derek Dietrich batted him in on an RBI single. Nola then struck out Nick Castellanos with two runners on to get out of the jam.

Nola continued to deal into the seventh inning, when he allowed a leadoff single to Mike Moustakas. Vince Velasquez came in in relief, eventually allowing Moustakas to score on an RBI single. Who hit the RBI single? Former Phil Freddy Galvis of course! Nola ended the day with two runs scored in six-plus innings pitched. He allowed six baserunners while striking out ten batters.

While Nola was good, Reds starter Tyler Mahle was better. Mahel pitched eight innings of shutout baseball, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out ten. Velasquez allowed a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to give the Reds a 3-0 lead heading into the top of the ninth. Iglesias came in, and quickly dealt with Maton, Segura, and McCutchen. With his second consecutive save, Iglesias secured a 2-1 series advantage for the Reds.

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Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

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