The Astros may have its’ back against the wall being down 2-1 in the series, and another game in Philadelphia, but the series heads to Houston. It is not impossible for a team to overcome a 2-1 deficit, or worst case, 3-1 hole. Up until the World Series, Houston swept the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees. No stranger to the postseason, the third World Series in six years, it is hard to write off the Astros.
Despite a terrible game one performance from ace Justin Verlander, the Astros rebounded with a 6-2 victory in game two. He may get the ball again in Houston and looking for a better performance. Verlander lost four times in the regular season, and after those defeats, he rebounded well. The same could be done for this postseason.
In game one, Houston pounced on Phillies ace Aaron Nola, and will see him again in game four. Now, the same case could be made for Nola as Verlander. But Nola presents an interesting case of home and road splits. Historically, the Phillies ace struggled mightily on the road and performed well at home. In 2022 however, Nola posted a 3.53 ERA and 12 homers in 97 innings versus a 3.00 ERA and seven home runs on 108 innings.
Houston owns a slight pitching advantage with Verlander, Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier. The trio of Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez are fantastic, but not quite the Houston trio.
The Phillies floundered in the division chase throughout the season but clinched the last Wild Card spot.
Philadelphia exploded in the postseason as it thwarted the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. This team caught fire at the right time, and in sports sometimes that is a lot better than teams of sustained success.
Bryce Harper carried the Phillies offense as he batted .500 against Atlanta in the NLDS. He later hit .400 in the NLCS against San Diego. With Harper in the lineup, the Phillies present a threat to some of the most dominant pitchers in the game, including the Astros pitching staff.
While Houston holds a slight advantage in starting pitching, the Phillies own a pair of aces too. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler saw how deadly the Astros can be on offense, but both are two of the best in the game. Wheeler posted a solid 12-7 record with a 2.82 ERA in the regular season. Despite a 1-2 record in the postseason Wheeler owns a 2.67 ERA after his blow up in game two.