MLB Playoffs: Trends, Matchups & Keys to Phillies vs. Cardinals Game 1

Here we go: The Phillies’ first playoff game in 11 years.

The Phils and Cardinals enter the field at 2:07 p.m. Friday afternoon on ABC in Game 1 of a best-of-three series.

Zack Wheeler, who pitched 14 scoreless innings against the Cardinals in July, starts for the Phillies. Jose Quintana, who threw a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts with St. Louis after a deadline trade from Pittsburgh, opts for the Cards.

The Cardinals finished 93-69 this season, comfortably winning the NL Central. Similar to the Phillies’ success against the Nationals and Marlins, the Cardinals did what they had to do to the bad teams in their division. They went 38-19 against the Reds, Pirates and Cubs, taking two of three.

St. Louis finished the NL Central relatively early, leading by no less than six games after Aug. 24. The Cards haven’t played very well the last three weeks of the season, going 6-9 in their last 15 games and scoring. two points or less in nine of the 16 finals.

But it’s still a very talented roster with varying waves of veteran presence and playoff experience. Imagine being a young cardinal like Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, Dylan Carlson or Tyler O’Neill and having vets at the end of their primes to emulate in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, and organizational legends at the end of their careers in Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.

Goldschmidt is the favorite to win the NL MVP title after going .317/.404/.578 with 41 doubles, 35 home runs and 115 RBIs this season. Arenado, who hit .293/.358/.533 with 42 doubles, 30 homers, 103 RBIs and his typical incredible defense, could also crack the top five in voting. Neither had a strong September, but both were remarkably consistent from April through August.

Pujols had a resurgent season, hitting his 700th homer the same season. Wainwright and Molina broke the record for most games started by a battery. But it wasn’t just a cool story for Pujols, he was legitimately dangerous in the final two months of the season, hitting .324 with a 1.128 OPS and 17 home runs after Aug. 10.

Donovan, a 25-year-old southpaw, has been extremely valuable to the Cardinals this season and could finish third in the NL Rookie of the Year race behind Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider. He played five different defensive positions, hit .281 with a .394 OBP, and finished the season as the Cardinals leadoff hitter. Tommy Edman, a quick and smart baserunner who was 32 of 35 in stolen bases, had been there most of the year.

Goldschmidt is just 5 for 23 (.217) at life against Wheeler. Arenado is 5 for 14, all singles. Together, they have one extra hit and one RBI in 41 plate appearances against the Phillies ace.

Edman is 1 of 9 and Corey Dickerson is 3 of 14, each with four strikeouts. Surprisingly, Wheeler has never faced Pujols.

Cardinals starting pitcher Quintana isn’t going far in games. He’ll likely be out no later than Bryce Harper’s third home plate appearance unless he throws a gem. The Phillies’ top two left-handed hitters, Harper and Kyle Schwarber, are a combined 1-for-12 against Quintana with a single and five Ks.

Starters Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery will all be available outside the bullpen with Miles Mikolas expected to start Game 2 against Aaron Nola.

Rhys Hoskins saw Quintana well, hitting base in 8 of 15 plate appearances with a homer. Nick Castellanos saw him almost as much as the rest of the team combined – he’s 11 for 49 (.275) with a pair of homers.

A number of Phillies will make their playoff debut – Wheeler, JT Realmuto, Jean Segura, Hoskins, Alec Bohm, obviously the rookies. Harper and Castellanos have never been part of a playoff win. This is the opportunity everyone in the Phillies clubhouse has been waiting for.

Wheeler against a starting mid-to-back pitcher in Quintana is a decent setup for Game 1. Although they didn’t pick up until Game 160, the Phillies head into the playoffs with a rested bullpen and the hitting fist they were planning to give. things.

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