Momentum was an important part of the 2022 World Series. Houston blew a 5-run lead in Game 1 of the series, but rallied to win Game 2 to even the series at one apiece. The Astros were shutout in Game 3 in Philadelphia, but returned the favor in Game 4 pitching a combined no-hitter to even the series at two apiece. At that point the Houston Astros would not relinquish the series and came away with their second World Series title in franchise history.
Two narratives are forming from the 2022 Postseason. One argument has formed that argues the top teams are at a disadvantage because of the layoff i.e, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves getting ousted in the Division Series with relative ease. The other argument is to never discount the Wild Card team in any given Postseason. The latter argument still holds water while the other I would retort with if you don’t handle your business when it’s your turn, why should anyone try to defend your poor play? Either way with this World Series matchup we have a Wild Card team in the Philadelphia Phillies. Their last appearance was in 2009. They won the World Series in 2008, but have been in rebuild mode for over a decade. Now they’ve returned and will go up against the Houston Astros who are making their fourth appearance in the Fall Classic in the last six seasons. So far the Astros haven’t lost a game this Postseason, but that could change with the Phillies vaunted offense and solid bullpen. Houston boasts a stacked lineup and a near shutdown bullpen, but their rotation could be the x-factor in this series. Lets hope for a good series that doesn’t involve a one-sided affair.
New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
They were on the brink of being eliminated in 4 games by the Cleveland Guardians in the Division Series. Thanks in large part to Gerrit Cole who pitched 7 innings for the Yankees in Game 4 that was avoided. Cole struck out 16 batters in his two starts for the series with a 2.03 ERA thus earning his salary. Nestor Cortes in his two starts had a 2.70 ERA and Clay Holmes didn’t allow a run out of the bullpen in his 4 appearances. The bats were alive and well with Giancarlo Stanton leading the way with 6 RBI and half of those coming from a 3-run HR in Game 5. Anthony Rizzo batted .294 with 4 RBI and Harrison Bader had 3 home runs and batted a respectable .267. Aaron Judge didn’t have a great series, but his presence was felt with him getting 2 home runs. If New York wants to return to the World Series, their pitching staff will need to be near perfect the rest of the way.
American League Division Series
1. Houston Astros vs. 5. Seattle Mariners
The strength of the Astros starts with their lineup, but they have a bevy of arms at their disposal for the rotation and bullpen. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Christian Javier each struck out at least 185 batters during the season. Their bullpen has been solid at the back end with Ryan Pressly saving 33 games and having a 0.89 WHIP. Rafael Montero had 14 saves with a 2.37 ERA. Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman were the run producers for Houston with each of them driving in at least 93 on the year. Jose Altuve was his usual self getting on base consistently scoring 103 runs. If Jeremy Pena can add some extra pop or likewise deadline acquisitions Trey Mancini and Christian Vazquez, Houston will be in a good position for another ALCS appearance.
American League Wild Card Series
3. Cleveland Guardians vs. 6. Tampa Bay Rays
The one constant for the Rays the past decade has been a pitching staff that has plenty of depth and is the main reason they are Postseason participants. That is no different this year as their rotation is as strong as its ever been with Shane McClanahan as their ace. Tyler Glasnow has returned from Tommy John surgery and could be that extra spark to make a deep run. Jason Adam has been a force in the bullpen this year and with the return of Pete Fairbanks that only adds to their arsenal. Randy Arozarena had a fantastic run in September and his Postseason heroics of 2020 weren’t that long ago. Expect him to make some noise again. There needs to be more from the lineup if they want to play in the Division Series. Could that be Wander Franco with his return from injury?