Tank's 2022 World Series Predictions
2022 World Series
Houston Astros vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Astros in Four
The 2022 World Series is a tale of David versus Goliath, as the Astros are making their fourth World Series appearance in six years, while the Phillies are in the World Series after a decade-long postseason drought in which they posted a losing record in nine consecutive seasons. The Astros were the top team in the American League, winning 106 games. Meanwhile, the Phillies are the sixth seed, making the playoffs in the season's final week. The Phillies and Astros played in the final three games of the regular season, with the Phillies clinching the sixth spot in the first game and the Astros winning the next two games.
The Phillies posted a record of 87-75 on the season and are only in the playoffs due to MLB adding a sixth playoff team this season, as they began the season poorly, leading to the ouster of Joe Girardi. When the change was made on June 3rd, nobody could have imagined that the Phillies would win the National League pennant, as Rob Thomson was named interim manager. The Phillies turned their season around under Thomson and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Of the 12 teams in the playoffs, the Phillies had the second-fewest wins, only better than the Tampa Bay Rays, who ended the season losing nine of their final ten games.
In the postseason, the Phillies have gotten terrific starting pitching, clutch hitting, and power, as with any team that makes a surprise run in October. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins have each hit five home runs with 11 RBI in the postseason. Kyle Schwarber has three home runs after leading the NL with 46 home runs in the regular season. Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola have each pitched well, and given the team innings, that has taken the stress off the bullpen, which was the Phillies' Achilles Heel most of the season. Nobody has been more valuable out of the bullpen than Seranthony Dominguez, who has allowed only three hits in seven and two-thirds innings in October.
The Astros have been here before, three of the last four seasons, four of the last six, and two straight. They won the World Series in seven games in 2017, beating the Dodgers, in a series that a cheating scandal has tarnished. Returning in 2019, the Astros were beaten by the Nationals in a seven-game series in which the road team won each game. Last season, the Astros were beaten in six games by the Braves. The Astros no longer care what anyone thinks about 2017, but they need to win a World Series to clarify that they are the era's best team.
The Astros have been dominant this postseason, sweeping the Mariners and the Yankees on the way to the World Series. In the Division Series era, only the 2007 Rockies swept the Division Series and LCS on the way to the World Series. The Astros have gotten superior pitching in the postseason, as they have posted a team ERA of 1.88. With an ERA of 6.30, Justin Verlander is the only pitcher with an ERA over three in the playoffs, as the Astros bullpen has been lights-out. The Astros have recorded two shutouts in their seven wins in October, including an 18-inning marathoner in the clincher of the ALDS in Seattle. In their four-game sweep of the Yankees, the Astros had 50 strikeouts setting a postseason record.
The Astros' bats have been just as deadly as their pitching. While Jose Altuve has been mired in a slump, the Astros have had new heroes emerge, as rookie Jeremy Pena won the ALCS MVP and has had several clutch hits, with three home runs and five RBI. Against the Mariners, Yordan Alvarez had a three-run walk-off in Game 1 and a go-ahead two-run bomb the following game. Alex Bregman has also come up big, leading Houston with eight RBI.
The worst thing that could have happened to the Phillies was a long rest between the NLCS and World Series. Teams have had this layoff before and have seen the World Series slip away quickly. This includes the 2012 Tigers and 2015 Mets, who both swept the LCS but came out flat and went down quickly in the Fall Classic as they could not re-establish the momentum they had.
Another team that had a long delay was the 2007 Rockies, a team that has many similarities to the Phillies, they won 14 of their last 15 games to earn a tie for the Wild Card and beat the Padres in a one-game playoff to get into the postseason, where they swept the Phillies and Diamondbacks on the way to the World Series. The Rockies had an eight-day layoff before the World Series started. The 2007 World Series was one of the great mismatches in MLB history as the Red Sox dominated sweeping the series while outscoring the Rockies 29-10.
The Astros and Phillies each have had a four-day layoff, but Houston having swept the Mariners after a bye in the Wild Card series already showed they know how to handle a week of no games. The Astros were the only team of the four teams that had a bye that did not face elimination in the Wild Card series. No team has ever gone through three rounds of playoff baseball without losing a game. The Reds went 7-0 in 1976 before there was a Division Series. The Yankees went through the three rounds in 1999, losing one game. The Astros can make history and a statement if they sweep the Phillies. Do not doubt that the Astros can get it done.
World Series MVP
Yordan Alvarez, Houston