The Phillies heartbreaking Game 5 loss to St. Louis in the 2011 NLDS was a moment that the fanbase will never forget. Time heals all wounds, however, and the moment has finally come to seek revenge on the Cardinals and take control of their fate.
Fresh Faces in Old Places
It is a headline that left many writers in limbo as it came down to the wire, but the Phightins have finally punched their ticket for Red October. This series won’t be easy, however, as St. Louis boasts playoff veterans in the HOF trio of Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Albert Pujols.
Their latest series losses to Chicago and Atlanta are definitely a bit of a concern but their ability to come in clutch and secure this spot with their backs against the wall only speaks volumes. Rhys Hoskins has been playing at a level that some thought he might not be able to reach. Jean Segura and Bryce Harper continue to lead the charge on both ends of the ball.
And, for once in what feels like a lifetime, they finally have great starting pitching with depth in the bullpen to pick up any slack.
All of the above are great signs of a competitive team in the making but expectations should be tempered before any conclusion is reached. Most of these guys don’t have postseason experience which puts them at a slight disadvantage. Not to mention, the typical feelings of nervousness, excitement, and frustration felt during a long campaign only become amplified during the playoffs.
One flaw that the Phillies can take advantage of against the Cards is that they boast the worst pitching staff in baseball right now. Though, starters like Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana have had a great second half to help stop the bleeding.
Young guns like Nick Maton or Alec Bohm may have some difficulty facing them given this experience and the fact that the latter has a history of making his feelings known when under pressure. Nonetheless, the older guys in the dugout will be sure to keep them in check and help guide them in an opportunity they’ve earned.
Other Factors the Phillies will Face
On the other side of the ball, whoever starts Game 1 will have to face the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Tommy Edman. Of course, this isn’t their first time matching up this year but these guys are just some of the hitters that could do damage if given the chance.
Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler are two pitchers who know how to handle their own out on the mound regardless of the challenge. The only issue is that both rank top five in the most home runs allowed on the team this season.
The Phillies playing in Busch Stadium could also affect them since the entirety of this series will be in St. Louis. Playing on the road is not for the faint of heart considering the majority of your fanbase is at home watching along. The weather could also play into effect here as the Fall time in Mound City tends to be on the colder side of things given they are playing out West.
The first game kicks off Friday, October 7th at 2:10 pm EST. with Zack Wheeler expected to take the mound for the Phillies. St. Louis has yet to name a starter but the assumption is that it could be Wainwright.
If this matchup were the case, it could be the Phillies who walk away with the dub as the other two times facing Waino this year ended with victories. His recent case of “dead arm” also doesn’t bode well for his chances of a successful night toeing the rubber.
The second and potentially third game of this series will be played over the weekend so if you miss the majority of game one, then you’ll hopefully have a chance to catch them then. I look forward to a spectacular matchup of David and Goliath with Bryce Harper leading the charge to avenge the ending of 2011 and rewrite history as we know it.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip