Phillies NLCS Game 1 preview: Wheeler vs. Darvish

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Phillies Zack Wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler throws the ball to a Washington Nationals player during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Well, folks, we made it. The Phillies are in the NLCS and will face the San Diego Padres. Both of these teams are extremely hungry. This is the first NLCS for the Phillies since 2010. The Padres have been waiting since 1998 to make it back to the NLCS.

A World Series appearance is on the line and both teams with be throwing everything they have at each other. Speaking of throwing, two studs will start it off on Tuesday night in San Diego.

Starting Pitchers


The Phillies will have their ace (1), Zack Wheeler, on the mound. Wheeler has been great in the postseason so far. He has thrown 12.1 IP with 3 ER in 2 games. Those 3 earned runs should also come with an asterisk as they came after Hoskins’ misplay at 1B.

A true ace will also be pitching as the Phillies opponent. Yu Darvish will make his 10th career start against the Phillies. He’s thrown 12 IP with 4 ER in 2 postseason games in 2022. His last start against the Dodgers wasn’t spectacular. He went 5 IP with 3 ER and 7 hits allowed.

Offensive showdown

Phillies offense is rolling

The Phillies’ lineup is coming into Petco Park red hot. They scored 7+ runs in every win against the Atlanta Braves. In there last 2 games, they scored 8+ runs in back-to-back playoff games for the first time in franchise history. Two-time MVP Bryce Harper has heated back up to 2021 levels. In the Braves series, he slashed .500/.529/.1.063 with 2 homers and 3 doubles. In the Cardinals series, he had a 1.089 OPS.

Jean Segura and Brandon Marsh also had a killer NLDS. “Mean Jean the Hitting Machine” did just that. He went 6/13 against the Braves with 2 doubles. Brandon Marsh posted a 1.150 OPS, hitting the second most-important homer of the series.

The Phillies hit five homers as a team in the series. If there’s one way they can get to Yu Darvish, it’s the longball. Darvish is riding a 9-game playoff streak in which he’s allowed at least one home run.

If anyone could use a homer off of Darvish, it’s Kyle Schwarber. The Schwarbarian has just a single hit in the postseason and no extra base hits. The lone brightside is that Schwarber had a .333 OBP in the NLDS.

Padres bats

On the Padres side, there are 3 batters who the Phillies need to be especially careful of. Jake Cronenworth went 7/16 with a homer and had the big hit for the Padres in game 4 of the NLDS.

Manny Machado was 2nd in the series to Cronenworth to hitting. He slashed .357/.471/.643 with a double and a homer.

Trent Grisham has been on a different planet since playoff started. In the NLDS, he slashed .308/.400/.538 with a home run. He was out of his mind in the Wild Card series. He went 4/8 with 2 homers in that series.

The biggest weapon the Padres have isn’t a hitter. It resides in the bullpen. Josh Hader has reclaimed his former glory. He’s thrown 4.1 postseason IP without a run, allowing a hit and a walk. He’s hitting speeds his fastball has never clocked before.

Luckly, the Phillies have 2 secret weapons if Hader is pitching…

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez