One more win. That’s all that separates the Philadelphia Phillies from reaching their second consecutive World Series. The team fought valiantly against the Astros one year ago and is keen to avenge that performance, bringing the City of Brotherly Love its first World Series since 2008.
The journey back to glory
It’s been a long road back to this point. Phillies fans watched on hesitantly as their team slowly limped out of the gates to an 8-11 start. Was a World Series hangover on the cards? It was hard to say, but with Bryce Harper nursing an injury and players like Trea Turner still finding their feet, the Phils struggled to find a rhythm in the early goings.
But if you contrast those early-season teething problems to where the team is now, the difference is night and day. The Phillies are the first team to record multiple 10-run games in a single playoff run since…you guessed it, the 2009 Phillies.
The bats are red-hot. Zack Wheeler is pitching out of his skin and Aaron Nola goes into tomorrow’s NLCS Game 6 sporting a 0.96 ERA in the 2023 playoffs. The team feels unstoppable and the only way they do struggle is when they dig themselves a hole…such as their 3-run lead that was ultimately surrendered in game 4.
Are the Phillies the best team left in the playoffs?
If the only team who can really beat the Phillies is themselves, then why can’t they go all the way. When you have someone like Kyle Schwarber who has now put up back-to-back 40 home run seasons and moved to 5th in the all-time playoff Home Run list before adding another one in game 5, it’s hard not to get behind this team.
Bryce Harper continues to come up big when the team needs a hero time after time, proving every last dime of his humongous contract absolutely worthwhile. He may go down as the best acquisition in Philly sports history if he continues on such a legendary trajectory.
Trea Turner’s resurgence has been a true joy to behold and he’s only shining brighter in the postseason. He’s batting .415 in this playoff run, homering 3 times in the process.
All of this offensive production has pushed Philadelphia to the top of the totem pole and the more balls that fly out of the park, the louder the cheers, the more balls fly out of the park. It’s an endless cycle as fans fall into a sense of unity with the team, very much becoming an additional teammate that any opponent would be intimidated to face (just ask the Braves).
With Game 6 taking place on Monday night, the Phillies rank 1st in postseason runs, hits, home runs, OBI, OBP, and slugging. Oh, and they’re supported by a pitching rotation allowing a stunning ERA of 1.78 and forcing batters to a measly .197 batting average.
The Phillies are no longer underdogs. They’re no longer a miracle team that is causing upset after upset. They’re the most dominant force left in the MLB playoffs…and they know it.
With a World Series berth on the horizon and an army of faithful fans driving them over the line, it feels like the days of miracles and dreams are over. The era of belonging, of confidence in how good this team really is, and how much they can accomplish, has arrived.
Some call it unfinished business, others call it destiny. However you feel, it’s impossible to deny the overwhelming sense of excitement surrounding this team and what lies around the corner.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum