Series Preview: Phillies look to clinch spot in 2022 playoffs against Houston

Phillies Nationals Baseball
Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber, center, is congratulated for his home run during the fourth inning of the second baseball game of the team’s doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Houston, the Phillies have a problem.

The 100-win Houston Astros stand in the way as the Phillies look to win one more game and make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The Phillies need either one more win or one more Brewers loss to make the post-season.

The Phillies control their own destiny, much like they have all season, and now they just need to put their opponents away one more time.

The Pressure is on for the Phillies

The pressure will be on the Phillies as they take the field Monday night against the Astros. While they can get bailed out by the Brewers at any point over the next three days, a win for this club against a World Series favor is needed.

The Astros will be playing their full starting lineups this week to build momentum heading into the playoffs. Houston will send their playoff starters in Lance McCullers, Justin Verlander, and Framber Valdez in this upcoming series.

The Phillies have played some of the best teams in baseball well this season. Taking these season series over clubs such as the Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals, and Brewers. The team has also struggled against bad teams like the Cubs, Rangers, and Giants.

The Astros are arguably the best team the Phillies will face all season and are no joke, as they head into the series with 104 wins. Getting a win against this team will ensure a playoff trip and give the Phillies some much-needed confidence heading into the weekend (hopefully).

October Nola?

Over the last few seasons, much has been said about Aaron Nola‘s September performances. This season, Aaron put those discussions to bed. Nola made five starts and went 1-2 with a 2.93 earned run average and 36 strikeouts. A lack of run support could be said for Aaron’s two losses, but he put the team in a position to win when he took the mound this past month.

Aaron now gets a chance to write his own story in October. Nola will get the start Monday against the Astros with a chance to send the Phillies to the playoffs. Aaron will have to thread his way through a very good Houston lineup that is firing on all cylinders.

With a quality start out of Aaron tonight in Houston, Nola can put the rumors to bed that he can’t pitch in big games. This will also put him on track to start Game 2 of the Wild Card series, which could once again be a crucial game in the Phillies’ season.

The Phillies Veteran Leadership

Kyle Schwarber has shown tremendous leadership on and off the field for the Phillies this season. The former World Series champ has been seen several times this season talking to his teammates before big situations and even boosting them up in the locker room after big wins.

Schwarber’s actions caught by the camera are just a small glimpse of what he brings to a ball club. Kyle has the most playoff experience out of anyone on the Phillies roster, and his experience in big games might be his biggest asset.

While guys like Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos have made the playoffs with other teams, neither one of them has had the success that Schwarber has. Winning the World Series in Chicago in 2016 and most recently being in the playoffs with Boston in 2021, Schwarber knows how to get the job done.

Kyle’s presence in the clubhouse will be helpful to the guys who have yet to taste playoff baseball, which most of the Phillies roster consists of.

With that being said, the most important place for Kyle to show his leadership skills would be on the field. The Phillies need his power bat at the top of the lineup to set the tone in Houston and beyond. Schwarber came alive when the team needed it the most this past weekend in Washington.

Carrying that fire against the dynamic staff that the Houston Astros feature will be huge for the club. Setting the tone and getting on base can take the pressure off other guys in the lineup, and this is exactly why the Phillies went out and signed a guy like Schwarber.

The Phillies need their leader to step against the Astros big time.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass