This weekend wrapped up the National and American League Pennant series, with the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros earning the chance to play in the World Series. Games start Friday, October 28. The two teams have had vastly different runs through the regular and postseasons, but are incredibly evenly matched in nearly every stat.
Philadelphia is a perennial underdog; they were in Rocky, the Eagles were in 2017, and that extends to the Phillies this year. Their season was doubted by experts and fans alike from start to postseason, and the team has, indeed, faced numerous bumps on the way through the season.
However, that clearly didn’t stop them and the Phils managed to snag the final Wild Card spot in the National League postseason. Now, the postseason is heating up, and there’s no doubt that the Phillies are on a roll. Their bullpen is deep, and they have a strong batting lineup all the way through. Every player in the starting rotation has contributed to the team in a significant way during the postseason, and it’s safe to say the Phillies are at their peak performance of this season, if not of several seasons, right now.
In a particularly Philadelphia style, the team (and fans) are using all the outside doubt to fuel their performance, and are playing with a chip on their shoulder and a “fuck you” attitude. Sunday night, the Phillies beat the San Diego Padres to clinch their spot in the World Series after a 4-1 run through the pennant. After a season that started with him unable to throw, and saw him out for XX weeks with a broken hand, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer Sunday night to win the game and the series, and was voted National League MVP, fueling their comeback feeling. In this way, it seems only fitting that the last team to get a spot for the postseason was the first team to clinch its spot for the World Series.
Meanwhile, the Astros are going into the series with a confidence similar to that of the New England Patriots during recent years: they’re the established elite, having been top dog for six years now, after their (since redacted) World Series win in 2017.
Cheating scandal aside, the Astros are a legitimately good team. In the past six years, they’ve been to the World Series four times, and are a perfect 7-0 through the postseason. They have an extraordinary bullpen; the relief pitchers have an averaged .83ERA in the postseason, stacked behind pitchers like Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez.
However, superstar Jose Altuve has been in a postseason funk, starting the playoffs going 0-for-25. Others on his team have stepped up, but the Astros will need Altuve to be at his best for this series. Make no mistake – the Astros batting averages this postseason are high, with Pena, Gurriel, and Bregman all hitting above .333, and their lineup has brought them into the World Series yet again, so Astros hitting is nothing to underestimate.
Going into the series, it’s anyone’s game. Momentum is on both team’s sides, following two dramatically different, but incredibly impressive postseason runs. The Phillies haven’t been to a World Series since 2009, during which they lost to the Yankees in six games, but several players on the team have significant postseason experience, including Kyle Schwarber, who was on the Chicago Cubs when they won the Series in 2016. The Astros are no newcomers to the World Series, and boast an 11-1 record in the month of October. The only loss they’ve had in that span? The Philadelphia Phillies, who beat them at Houston 3-0 on October 03.
Games one and two will be hosted in Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday, October 28, and Saturday October 29, both starting at 8:03PM ET. Games three, four and five (if necessary,) will be in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, on Monday, October 31, Tuesday, November 01, and Wednesday November 02, all starting at 8:03PM ET. All games will be streamed on FOX.
By Reese Finnigan ’25