The Philadelphia Phillies and their fans reminded the world what playoff baseball looks like in their 2-0 sweep against the Miami Marlins in the National League Wild Card Series. Now, the Phillies stand poised for part two of their campaign to secure the World Series pennant as they travel to Atlanta to open up their best-of-five National League Division Series on Saturday.
While the Phillies will need to take this journey one step at a time, let’s take a look at all the possible paths the Phillies may find themselves on the deeper they go into the postseason. Surprisingly, a few of those paths include potential home field advantage opportunities for the Phillies, who made their way into the postseason as a Wild Card Team.
Phillies Hope to Silence the Tomahawk Chop
The next and potentially most difficult step along this path begins this Saturday. The Phillies will have to take down the NL East Champion Atlanta Braves in what is shaping up to be a bloodbath of a series. The Braves will come into the series hungry for revenge after the 2022 NLDS. Meanwhile, the Phillies have developed a taste for the World Series atmosphere and are looking to return to the dance once more this season.
In 2022, the Phillies took the Braves by surprise, claiming a Game 1 victory before the home-field advantage that is Citizens Bank Park came in big time with victories in Games 3 and 4 to secure their ticket to the NLCS. Spencer Strider is still scarred from the NLDS.
The Phillies have not faired well against the Braves in 2023, but if you look deeper than their 5-8 record against the Braves, there are a lot of indicators that fortune will shift. They went 4-3 in Atlanta in 2023 while going only 1-5 in Philadelphia. Just like in 2022, if the Phils claim one or both games early in Atlanta, it will go a long way.
Manager Rob Thomson confirmed on Friday that the team will pitch Ranger Suarez, Zack Wheeler, and Aaron Nola in Games 1, 2, and 3, respectively. There are enough off-days in the schedule to return to Suarez and Wheeler on full rest for Games 4 and 5. The three starters have pitched for a combined 3.14 ERA over 43 innings against the Braves this season. Should they keep the Braves to an average of three runs per start, the Philly offense should have no issue outscoring the Braves.
The Phillies in the NLCS
Should the Fightin’s advance to the National League Championship Series, they will face the victor of the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 100-62 Dodgers own home-field advantage in the series and also have an 8-5 record against the Diamondbacks on the year. Should the Dodgers dispatch the D-Backs, then they will have to take down a second consecutive 100-win team to earn their World Series ticket. With a 2-4 record against the Dodgers on the year, the Phillies would have their work cut out for them, but it would be a winnable series.
If Arizona defeats Los Angeles, then Philadelphia would get home field advantage in the NLCS. The Diamondbacks (84-78) sat six games behind the Phillies (90-72) at the end of the series. With a winning record on the season against the D-Backs (4-3) and home-field advantage, the Phillies would be a heavy favorite should the stars align.
How Do the Phillies Stack Up Against the American League?
Once we get to the World Series part of the conversation, there are still many possibilities on the table for the Phillies. So let’s begin with the two easier of the four. Should the Phillies face the Baltimore Orioles (101-61) in the World Series, then the Orioles would have home home-field advantage. Given the proximity, however, would it really be a home-field advantage, or would Camden Yards find itself filled with Philadelphia Phaithfuls? On the other side of the spectrum, should the AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins advance to the World Series, the Phillies would host as the Twins ended the season with a record of 87-75.
Now for the two fun ones: The Phillies have the same record as both the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, meaning home-field advantage would be determined by the tiebreaker: regular season head-to-head record. Ironically, if the Phils faced either team in the World Series, then home-field advantage would have been determined by games played six months prior to the World Series.
If you recall, the Phillies started off the season 0-3, getting swept by the Rangers. Therefore, the Rangers would have home field advantage.
At the end of April, Philadelphia went down to Minute Maid Park and won their series against the Astros 2-1 with Wheeler and Nola picking up the victories. Should the World Series be a rematch of 2022, the tables will have turned as the Phillies would have home-field advantage.
A Long Road Ahead
It is a tricky road ahead to navigate for the Phillies. There are three teams with 100+ win seasons still in the mix as well as a few teams that had Philadelphia’s number during the regular season. All Rob Thomson and the Phillies can do, however, is focus on the series in front of them right now. With the clock counting down to 6:07 P.M. on Saturday, the Phillies have their eyes set on taking down the Braves once more.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum