This is a blog series I put together on the 8 MLB Wild Card playoff teams.
Hopefully it helps improve your MLB playoff experience whether you're a diehard like me or just getting into the season and don't know where to start.
And of course - follow Starting 9 for world class MLB playoff coverage.
Let's get into it:
But first you guys should know I'll be streaming Cards vs. Phillies today at 1pm central in the first ever Starting 9 Carl-Cast
And check out this prop bet
And now the Phillies:
The Philadelphia Phillies
Division: East (3rd)
Playoff Seed: 6th of 6
Wild Card Opponent: @ (#3) Cardinals
Obligatory Sweet Moment:
Manager: Rob Thomson
Years Managed: 1
Record: 65-46 (.586)
Postseason Record: 0-0
Accomplishments: Took over for Girardi when everyone was selling the Phillies down the river and now they're in the playoffs.
Noteworthy Nuggets: Canadian citizen and that's literally all I got
Head Honcho: Dave Dombrowski (2 years) is from Oak Lawn, IL. He went to Richards high school and then Western Michigan where he majored in accountancy and presumably crushed thousands of beers. Then he landed a front office job with the White Sox after chasing down Roland Hemond at the MLB winter meetings one year. It's a crazy story about chance and luck and opportunity and Dave tells it much better than me. Worth asking him next time you guys bump into each other. The man is a legend.
Phillies Owner's Box
Owner: John S. Middleton (and the Buck Family shhhhhhh)
Net Worth: $3.4B
Source of Wealth: Black and Milds. I wish I was joking. His great-grandpa (or something like that) started a mail order tobacco company in the 1850's. It was successful enough to survive and grow for the next 100 years in tobacco retail/wholesale. Then in the 1950's, the Middleton Co. started making their own tobacco products and the company absolutely exploded over the next couple decades. Fast forward to the 80's and here comes John fresh out of Harvard business school, acquiring brands and growing the tobacco company.
Business was booming.
Then in 1994, John purchased a minority interest (15%) in the Phillies for a mere $18M. He's been there ever since and has bought it up to 48% alongside the Buck Family who also owns an equal 48%. John is the face though because the Buck's made their money in pharmaceuticals and that's a bad for optics. So they picked the tobacco guy instead.
Year Purchased: 1994
Purchase Price: $18M and then incremental purchases over the next 20 years
2022 Team Value: $2.3B
2022 Payroll (MLB Rank): $255 Million (4th)
The 2022 Phillies:
Brand Recognition: Slow pitch softball meets Major League Baseball.
3 Best Players:
1. Bryce Harper, OF = bad, bad boy
2. J.T. Realmuto, C = maybe the best shortstop on the field and he plays catcher
3. Kyle Schwarber, OF = hello my name is Kyle and I eat playoff fastballs for breakfast
Best Pitchers: Every other team preview is just limited to one starting pitcher, but in this case I really don't have a choice. Wheeler and Nola are so interchangeably dominant and dynamic. Any attempt to say otherwise is complete bullshit.
Surprise Guy To Watch: Brandon Marsh even though he's not a traditional surprise. Just a gritty dude that needs more attention especially after the Phillies unloaded that stud catcher Logan O'Hoppe to land him this trade deadline. The ceiling on this guy is huge from my outside perspective. He looks like such a complete Philly Scumbag Eagles fan growing his beard until they bring back the kelly green jerseys full time.
Performance wise I think he's just one of those gamer players that can get red hot for a weekend under the bright lights. That's how those big time Georgia high school players are brought up. It's legitimately in their DNA and I mean like the actual physical DNA. The real stuff.
Brandon Marsh has it.
Oldest Guy On The Team: David Robertson, 37
Youngest Guy On The Team: Brandon Marsh, 24
Strengths: So much pop and power at nearly ever position. Complete dudes up and down the lineup that do not give a fuck about your feelings. That's what I think when I look at this Phillies team. Just a bunch of hungry dogs that want to play their brand of baseball. They've been through a lot of shit this season and now they roll into October with a lethal 1-2 starting pitcher combo and a blank canvas for Bryce Harper to paint his October masterpiece. That's a compelling story.
Weaknesses: Biggest problem is they're just not as good as the other teams in the playoffs. Sometimes it really is that simple. They're a little slower. A little more banged up. A little more stiff in the field. A little less cohesion with all the injuries and new faces. They accomplished a lot to get here but the vibes just feel off. Also interesting time to move Zach Eflin to closer. Very confusing pitching staff after Nola and Wheeler.
3 Biggest Questions:
1. Seriously though - who is coming out of the bullpen?
2. Is Bryce healthy, hurt or injured? We'll never know for sure, but he's been so off since coming back from injury. Almost bad enough to wonder if he ever got healthy?
3. Can they lay off the soft shit early? Quintana is going to be spinning and cutting and sliding and curving as much as he can. It's going to be tempting. If you take the bait early then he's in complete control and it's a long day.
The Phillies can win the World Series if…
Bryce Harper plays to the best of his ability. Realmuto goes off. The two pitchers throw 3 no hitters each and a natural disaster wipes out the western seaboard. That's my best bet.
For more on the Philadelphia Phillies and the 2022 Wild Card Series: