Wildcards rise to top as Phils, Padres meet in NLCS



Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm looks on during practice ahead of Game 1 of the baseball NL Championship Series against the San Diego Padres, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in San Diego. The Padres host the Phillies for Game 1 Oct. 18. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

“HIT THAT JAWN,” read a sign made by a Phillies fan this past Friday, and that they did, in the team’s 9-1 rout of the Atlanta Braves. Led by reigning MVP Bryce Harper, Philadelphia looks to continue a postseason in which they have dominated every opponent that comes in their way. They meet a similar unstoppable force in that of the San Diego Padres, who have shockingly bested some of the top teams in baseball so far. Here’s everything you need to know about your Fightin’ Phils and the total matchup in this NLCS clash.

This upcoming series is possibly the greatest battle of underdogs we have seen in baseball history. In fact, this marks the first time that two teams with less than 90 wins in the regular season have ever faced off in the National League Championship Series (Philadelphia 87-75, San Diego 89-73). Starting off with San Diego, their road to this series has seen the likes of the 99 win New York Mets and franchise record 111 win Los Angeles Dodgers, as they narrowly quelled both powerhouses. Now as for your Phillies, they swept the 93 win St. Louis Cardinals and absolutely pounded the 101 win Atlanta Braves. 

As for the true underdog according to betting odds, it’s yet again Philadelphia. Caesar’s sportsbook has the Pads at -125 odds to win the series. While these odds for Philly may not be as shockingly low as they were against Atlanta, this will still be a dog-fight against arguably the hottest team right now in San Diego. This series will be an invigorating best of seven to see who will advance to the Fall Classic.

Who’s hot and who’s not?

For the Phillies, Bryce Harper is leading all of baseball in batting average with his .435 in 23 at bats to pair with his monstrous 1.437 OPS (also best in the league). Harper also ranks 4th in ISO (raw power measured by extra base hit rate per at bat). The prized duo of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler has also been vital for Philadelphia’s success, with each of the aces going 12+ innings total in 2 starts and allowing a measly 3 runs combined, with Nola allowing 0 himself.

On the other hand, San Diego has had no lack of star-power throughout their playoff run. Their offensive trio of Manny Machado, Trent Grisham, and Austin Nola has combined for 24 hits, 5 homers, and an OPS in the 1.000 range in 68 cumulative at bats. Ironically enough, they also have an elite trio of starting pitchers, with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove combining for 33.2 innings pitched and a sub-2.50 ERA. 


Probable Starting Pitching matchups

Game 1: SD Yu Darvish (194.2 IP, 3.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)  vs PHI Zack Wheeler (153 IP, 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)

Game 2: SD Joe Musgrove (181 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) vs PHI Aaron Nola (205 IP, 3.25 ERA, .95 WHIP)

Game 3: SD Blake Snell  (128 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) vs PHI Ranger Suarez (155.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

Games 4-7: TBD if needed (Best of seven series)



 Here are the probable lineups and corresponding statistics heading into this marquee matchup. Ranks are based on respective statistics among each position in all of MLB in the 2022 regular season (AVG= batting average, HR=Home runs, OPS=On base % + Slugging %, OAA= Outs made on defense above average with average being 0 applying to infield and outfield). NQ= not qualified to meet a minimum of 3.1 plate appearances per team game played.


SD: Austin Nola; .251 AVG (NQ), 4 HR (T-43rd), .649 OPS (NQ)

PHI: J.T. Realmuto; .276 AVG (2nd), 22 HR (T-4th), .820 OPS (1st)

Edge: PHI


First base

SD: Wil Myers; .261 AVG (NQ), 7 HR (N/A), .713 OPS (NQ), 1 OAA (N/A)

PHI: Rhys Hoksins; .246 AVG (12th), 30 HR (8th), .794 OPS (12th), -6 OAA (32nd)

Edge: PHI


Second base

SD: Jake Cronenworth; .239 AVG (13th), 17 HR (T-5th), .722 OPS (T-10th), 4 OAA (11th)

PHI: Jean Segura; .277 AVG (NQ), 10 HR (T-21st), .723 OPS (NQ), 4 OAA (13th)

Edge: PHI


Third base

SD: Manny Machado; .298 AVG (1st), 32 HR (2nd), .897 OPS (1st), 8 OAA (4th)

PHI: Alec Bohm: .280 AVG (6th), 13 HR (T-14th), .713 OPS (T-17th), -8 OAA (34th)

Edge: SD



SD: Ha-Seong Kim; .251 AVG (13th), 11 HR (16th), .708 OPS (13th), 6 OAA (12th)

PHI: Bryson Stott; .234 AVG (NQ), 10 HR (T-19th), .653 OPS (NQ), -3 OAA (28th)

Edge: SD


Left Field

SD: Jurickson Profar; .243 AVG (10th), 15 HR (10th), .722 OPS (9th), -4 OAA (31st)                 

PHI: Kyle Schwarber; .218 AVG (14th), 46 HR (1st), .827 OPS (1st), -13 OAA (40th)

Edge: PHI


Center Field

SD: Trent Grisham; .184 AVG (9th), 17 HR (T-9th), .626 OPS (8th), 16 OAA (1st)

PHI: Brandon Marsh; .245 AVG (NQ), 11 HR (17th), .679 OPS (NQ), 0 OAA (37th)

Edge: PHI


Right Field

SD: Juan Soto; .242 AVG (12th), 27 HR (T-5th), .853 OPS (2nd), -14 OAA (39th)

PHI: Nicholas Castellanos; .263 AVG (7th), 13 HR (15th), .694 OPS (15th), -11 OAA (38th)

Edge: SD


Designated Hitter (New to National League)

SD: Josh Bell; .266 AVG (4th), 17 HR (T-11th), .784 OPS (4th)

PHI: Bryce Harper; .286 AVG (NQ), 18 HR (T-8th), .878 OPS (NQ)

Edge: PHI


Team Batting/Fielding Statistics

Here are the total respective team stats from the 2022 regular season among all teams (AVG= batting average, HR=Home runs, OPS=On base % + Slugging %, OAA=Outs made on defense above average with average being 0 applying to infield and outfield). 

SD: .241 AVG (16th), 153 HR (21st), .700 OPS (15th), 31 OAA (3rd)

PHI: .253 AVG (T-8th), 205 HR (6th), .739 OPS (8th), -36 OAA (29th)


Team Pitching Statistics:

These are the total stats in regard to pitching from the previous season for each team (ERA= Earned run average/9 innings, WHIP= walks plus hits allowed per inning pitched, SO= strikeouts, BAA= batting average against the pitcher).

SD: 3.81 ERA (11th), 1.20 WHIP (9th), 1451 SO (7th), .232 BAA (T-8th)

PHI: 3.97 ERA (18th), 1.26 WHIP (14th), 1423 SO (10th), .245 BAA (16th)


Both of these teams see similarities in a few ways. They have both been surprisingly carried by their pitching for most of the season despite superstars in the lineup like Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber for Philly, and for San Diego, Manny Machado and Juan Soto are the big names. While Philadelphia has a top 2 in the rotation that can spar with anybody, the Friars have arguably a deeper and more balanced rotation overall. Both bullpens have also been important factors with the Padres being lights out in this department. 

It will truly be fascinating not only as a fan of the Phillies, but as a fan of baseball, to see so many talents on these teams face off this week. The Nola brothers (Aaron and Austin) will have an epic rematch and the battle of 300+ million dollar contracts will commence with Bryce Harper versus Manny Machado. The two coastal crowds should be absolutely galvanizing, as this is the first time either have gone this far in the postseason since 2010 for the Phillies and 2005 for the Padres. Unlike my last NLDS predictions, I will be picking the Phillies to win this series in 7 games and move on to the World Series. However, I can only hope that this isn’t a jinx, as a potential chance to be on the biggest stage in the Fall Classic would be unimaginably spectacular.