Welcome to “Red October” as the Philadelphia Phillies’ postseason redemption tour starts. Up first is a home series against the Miami Marlins starting Tuesday. This will be the first playoff series between the two teams. The Phillies come into the postseason looking to get back to the World Series after a crushing defeat against the Houston Astros last season after holding a 2-1 series lead. If the Phillies want to get back to the World Series, they will have to go through two NL East rivals to get there. Whoever wins the series between the Phillies and the Marlins will face the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. The Phillies and the Braves met in the postseason last year, with the Phils winning that NLDS matchup in four games.
However, this year things are different for the Phillies heading into the postseason. They are no longer the underdog team that snuck into the playoffs. After winning the pennant last season, the Phillies have to show that they can maintain this success over multiple seasons. Another thing that is different this season is the Phillies have the home-field advantage in their NL Wild Card Series matchup. They could have home-field advantage in the NLCS and World Series depending on who they end up playing if they get that far. That’s something to keep in mind in the event of a World Series rematch with the Astros, in which that would be the case.
The @Phillies are looking to make some noise out of a Wild Card spot.
Sound familiar? pic.twitter.com/xyTQXjlISb
— MLB (@MLB) October 2, 2023
The Phillies Postseason Redemption Tour Begins
A Slightly Different Roster
At this time last season, Rhys Hoskins played a major role in the Phillies’ run to the World Series. However, Hoskins got injured during spring training and missed the entire regular season. There is a chance that Hoskins could play in the World Series if the Phillies get that far. If Hoskins were able to play in the postseason, he would be limited to being the DH or pinch-hitting duties and unable to play in the field. There is a precedent to the situation Hoskins is currently dealing with. During the 2016 season, Kyle Schwarber saw a similar occurrence. Schwarber played in the World Series for the Chicago Cubs as the DH after missing most of the regular season due to that injury.
The Phillies’ middle infield also looks different compared to this time last year. After signing Trea Turner during the offseason, Bryson Stott moved from shortstop to second base. Signing Turner to replace Jean Segura was the most important move the team made to improve during this past offseason. Having Turner and his expansive postseason experience, as well as that of the returning players, can be a difference-maker for the Phillies. This time around the Phillies will be better prepared for in-game situations that may arise. Having been in this situation before will give the Phillies an advantage, especially against the fledgling Marlins.
How The Phillies Get Back To The World Series
For the Phillies to get back to the World Series they need to have a few things happen. For one, they cannot allow the bats to go cold. This has happened during the regular season a few times and during the World Series last year. Furthermore, having players like Schwarber and Bryce Harper at the top of the lineup get going from the start will help the lineup as a whole. This will set up players like Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm, giving them opportunities to drive in runs early and often. Using the speed of Turner to steal bases can also help drive in runs. This season, Turner set a new MLB record for the most stolen bases (30) without being caught.
Another important element for the Phillies is pitching. At the end of the day, most postseason series are decided by pitching. For the Phillies, that starts with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola who will start Game 1 and Game 2 against the Marlins, respectively. Having Wheeler and Nola go as deep into their starts as possible would tremendously help the Phillies bullpen. As a whole, the bullpen will need to step up in high-leverage situations. The bullpen cannot be having meltdowns if the Phillies want to go on another postseason run. They also need to be able to trust Craig Kimbrel to close out games. When the game is on the line in the later innings, Kimbrel will find the mound at some point and needs to get outs without causing further drama.
Some Postseason Math And Thoughts
At the end of the day, the goal is simple: win the World Series. The 2023 Phillies are a team that can accomplish that. This team has the talent and experience necessary to get the job done. Furthermore, the home crowd in Philadelphia creates one of the best playoff environments in the major leagues. It is now time to go out there and get the job done. It is time to cue the Phillies’ postseason rally song “Dancing on My Own” by Callum Scott and settle in for the ride. The math is very simple. Nine wins and the Phillies go back to the World Series for the second consecutive year. They could potentially get a rematch against the Astros and a chance to finish the story with them. 13 more wins and the Phillies are three-time World Series champions.
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports