Following the Phillies’ strong 39-21 season, the Phils find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 in our Out Of The Park Baseball 21 simulation. Nine seasons later, the Phillies also have the chance to seek retribution against the team that delivered the finishing blow to their playoff hopes that year: the St. Louis Cardinals.
At 36-24, the Cardinals took the NL Central by storm to reclaim their title for a second consecutive year. The Cardinals possessed a mediocre offense in the 2020 simulation, but their pitching staff led the league in ERA, runs against, FIP, and Pitching WAR. Leading the staff is Jack Flaherty, who boasted a 2.30 ERA in a league-leading 82 innings pitched.
The Phillies come into the series finding themselves without Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper, who both suffered injuries on the same day back in September. J.T. Realmuto appears ready to take a majority of the starts at first base while Mike Zunino gets a wartime promotion to starting catcher in his stead. (In real life, Zunino signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, but not in this simulation!) Devily Grullon meanwhile was called up to act as backup catcher. In right field, Nick Williams will serve as Harper’s replacement for the postseason.
While the Phillies’ offense may have to manage without two critical pieces, the Phillies’ pitching staff has received some unexpected reinforcements. David Robertson, who is recovering from Tommy John Surgery last August, is rejoining the team for the postseason. Manager Joe Girardi will have a hard decision to make whether to use Robertson or Hector Neris as the team’s closer following Neris’ 14-save season. In real life, Robertson is hopeful that he will return this season.
Additionally, Spencer Howard had a tremendous September call-up stretch with the Phillies before going on the IL with a sore elbow. Howard has been activated and is slated as the Phillies’ third starter behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Jake Arrieta is listed as the team’s fourth starter while Vince Velasquez joins the bullpen.
NLDS Game 1
Aaron Nola faced off against Jack Flaherty in Game 1 of the best-of-five series. Brad “Bamboo Brad” Miller returned to Philadelphia for the first time following his stint with the team in 2019. He did not waste any time as he hit a two-run home run off of Nola in the top of the fourth to give the Cardinals an early lead.
Jean Segura didn’t take long to respond for the Phillies, blasting a solo home run to lead off the bottom half of the inning. Two innings later, Segura reached base on a single before coming home on an Andrew McCutchen double to right field.
Aaron Nola pitched through the seventh inning for the Phillies, ending the day with two earned runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. The Phillies would not leave Nola with a 2-2 no-decision, however. Nick Williams slammed a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Realmuto and putting Nola on track for the win.
Following a 1-2-3 top of the eighth from Hector Neris, the Phillies added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. After Segura scored on another McCutchen double, Didi Gregorius put the hammer down with a two-run home run.
With a 7-2 lead, Neris came in looking for the two-inning save. He loaded the bases with two walks and a single, and managed two outs before the bullpen phone rang in the dugout. With one out to go, David Robertson came in and pitched a four-pitch strikeout to earn the save.
NLDS Game 2
With a 1-0 lead in the series, the Phillies looked to Zack Wheeler to keep the momentum going against Carlos Martinez. Nick Maton played small-ball in the bottom of the first, getting on with a lead-off single. He stole second base before moving to third on a single from Segura. Carlos Martinez managed to limit the damage, forcing McCutchen into a double play. Maton scored on the play, giving the Phillies an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Wheeler got into a bases-loaded one-out jam. His pitch control was absent as he allowed runs to score on a four-pitch walk, an infield single, and a hit batter. He managed to force Matt Carpenter into a flyout to end the inning, but not before the Cardinals had a 3-1 lead. Paul Goldschmidt increased the Cardinals’ lead with an RBI-single in the top of the fourth.
Carlos Martinez threw 4.1 innings while allowing only one run on five hits and four walks. The Phillies had their opportunities but could not cross the plate. It was not until the sixth inning that the Phillies scored another run off a Nick Williams solo home run. But that would be too little, too late as the Phillies dropped the game 4-2.
NLDS Game 3
The series moved to St. Louis for two as Spencer Howard made his postseason debut against seasoned veteran Adam Wainwright. The Phillies gave Howard all of the run support he needed quickly as Didi Gregorius hit a two-run home run, scoring McCutchen, at the top of the first.
Following the dinger from Didi, it became a pitcher’s duel. Howard threw 4.2 innings of shutout baseball before the Phillies capped him at 95 pitches. Jose Alvarez and Vince Velasquez would pitch the Phillies into the eighth inning, before handing the ball off to Neris as the setup man. Neris allowed one hit in the eighth but tallied three strikeouts in the inning, setting up Robertson in the ninth. Robertson pitched an eight-pitch inning to record his second save of the season, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead over St. Louis.
Continued on the page below.
Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports