Everyone knows the Philadelphia Phillies can bash the baseball as well as any team. But they have made their surprising run to the World Series thanks in large part to a starting rotation that has been spectacular throughout the postseason. Phillies starters have a 2.96 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and a microscopic .175 opponents’ batting average through 11 playoff games. Those starters have the tough task of shutting down the Houston Astros, but they could be up to the task once the series gets underway Friday at 8:03 p.m. ET. Here is how Philadelphia’s rotation will line up in this Fall Classic.
Phillies starting pitchers
Game 1: RHP Aaron Nola
Game 2: RHP Zack Wheeler
Game 3: RHP Noah Syndergaard
Game 4: TBD
Manager Rob Thomson said Nola will start Game 1 because he wants to give Wheeler, who started the team’s NLCS Game 5 clincher on Sunday, an extra day of rest. Wheeler is their best pitcher, but Nola is no slouch. His FanGraphs WAR (6.3) led all qualified starters, and he finished among the top five in strikeouts, FIP and innings pitched. Nola gave up six runs in his NLCS start in San Diego, but he was superb in the Wild Card Round versus the Cardinals and threw 6.2 scoreless innings with two hits allowed and nine K’s against these Astros on Oct. 3.
Over 25.1 innings this postseason, Wheeler owns a 1.78 ERA and a 25:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Wheeler has a 1.38 ERA over his past seven starts, dating back to the regular season.
Suarez, who closed out Game 5 of the NLCS, has given up only two runs over nine innings this postseason. Control and command can be an issue for him sometimes, and he will have a very difficult matchup against an Astros lineup that led the American League with a .783 OPS versus left-handers.
Syndergaard no longer possesses the power from his heyday with the Mets when he was known as “Thor.” But the 6-foot-6 righty has been decent since coming to Philadelphia in a midseason trade. Considering how the Phils have handled him during the postseason, he likely won’t pitch more than three or four innings in his World Series start.