The Philadelphia Phillies have made their way back to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Gone are the days of clutch hits from Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard, and Brad Lidge won’t be coming in to close games for this squad. It is time for members of the 2022 Phils to etch their names into the lore of Phillies playoff baseball, and these five guys all have a chance to become playoff heroes.
5. Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber has already put together quite a playoff resume. The former World Series champion has now played playoff baseball in 7 of his 8 seasons in the Major Leagues. Schwarber was a huge part of the Boston Red Sox’s run in the post-season last year, and hit power approach from the leadoff spot was a catalyst in the Boston lineup.
Schwarber has won himself over with the Phillies fanbase this season. But a strong playoff run by Schwarber could set himself apart from other fan favorites. Using his playoff experience and setting the tone early for the Phillies could very well be the difference between beating the Cardinals.
A homerun or two would go a long way for the Phillies and Schwarber in St. Loius. A red-hot Phillies offense is something that no team wishes to face. Schwarber can get things started with a bang on Friday just like he did Monday in the playoff-clinching win over the Astros.
4. Zack Wheeler
Goosebumps ran down my arms last season when Zack Wheeler threw a complete game shutout on Roy Halladay’s jersey retirement day. Wheeler had pitched a gem that was a remnant of Doc’s days in Philadelphia, and it was one of the many brilliant performances he has conducted since becoming a Phillie.
On Friday, Wheeler has a chance to add to the legacy he has created in Philadelphia. He has the opportunity to once again shut down the Cardinals and bring home a playoff win for Phillies fans. Zack has looked the part since returning from the injured list, and he should be at full strength by the time he takes the ball Friday afternoon.
A quality start and a win for the right-hander in Game 1 can be the start of a dominant playoff run. The Phillies ace is going to be tasked with setting the tone early in the Wild Card series, and when he takes the mound, he will be expected to win. A Hamels-like run for Zack Wheeler can send him into the ranks of all-time performances by Phillies pitchers in the postseason, and it all starts on Friday afternoon.
3. Jose Alvarado
Brad Lidge and Tug McGraw are the two men that have stood on the mound while the Phillies won a World Series title. Lidge and McGraw are heroes in Philadelphia, and their work in the postseason will forever engrave their names in the history of the Phillies. Jose Alvarado has a chance to do just that in the 2022 playoffs.
Alvarado has been the best left-handed relief pitcher in baseball since he was recalled from the minor leagues. Adding an unhittable cutter was just the confidence boost he needed to establish himself in the Phillies bullpen. Since his return, Jose has been point blank, the best pitcher on the team in 2022.
Alvarado should be the pitcher in high leverage in the playoffs. He has been more consistent than both Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson down the stretch. Jose might not have to take the traditional closer role as Tug and Brad did, but his impact could be just as important. Jose Alvarado has a chance to establish himself as a Phillie playoff legend if he is able to perform in the 2022 playoffs.
2. Bryce Harper
This list of potential playoff heroes would be empty without the reigning National League MVP. Bryce Harper has been worth every penny the Phillies gave him in the 2018 off-season. Adding an all-time playoff performance to an already impressive Phillies tenure would be the icing on the cake for Harper.
Bryce is the team’s best player, regardless of how well the unit played while he was injured this season. Had Harper been healthy, I can only imagine what this team could have done record-wise. Now that Bryce is back and has had time to get back into the swing of things, I expect nothing less than a strong playoff performance.
Harper is the teams’ leader and he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Bryce is going to give this team everything he has this weekend in St. Louis and beyond if the club advances. If the M-V-3 is able to get hot at the right time, he can easily add himself to the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Mike Schmidt as all-time playoff performers.
1. Rhys Hoskins
The secret ingredient in the Phillies’ recipe of success is Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies lineup cooks with him when Rhys is firing on all cylinders. The team often finds itself freezing at the plate when Rhys is cold. If Hoskins can get going in St. Louis, the rest of the league is going to be shaking in their cleats.
Rhys has drawn comparisons to many different Phillies from the past. The one comparison that he often draws is to Pat Burrell. Burrell was not a star of the ’08 team but without his powerful bat in the lineup, the Phillies would not have won the World Series.
Hoskins can be the Burrell of this playoff stretch for the Fightins. Rhys has a chance to go on a Ryan Howard-like tear through the playoffs, which will undoubtedly help the Phillies advance. Rhys can become a Phillies playoff legend by simply being himself.
It only takes one big hit to get the right-hander going, and if he can get the bat flowing against the Cardinals, Rhys Hoskins will become a Phillies playoff hero.
Photo Credit: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP