2. Houston matches Philadelphia’s pitching strength
When the Phillies first started making waves in the postseason, it was in the Wild Card round as Philadelphia went into St. Louis and ousted the Central Division champion Cardinals in two games. One of the biggest reasons for Philadelphia’s success in St. Louis (and ever since) has been the pitching duo of Zack Wheeler (1.78 ERA and 0.51 WHIP in 25.1 postseason innings) and Aaron Nola (3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 17.1 postseason innings).
Wheeler and Nola have given the Phillies an edge when they have taken the mound, but Houston will have time to reset the top of its rotation heading into Friday’s World Series opener, meaning Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez will almost certainly get the nod for the Astros.
While Verlander struggled in his 2022 postseason debut against the Seattle Mariners, he came back to look like the AL Cy Young favorite with six strong innings against the Yankees in the ALCS opener. Valdez, meanwhile, has a 1.42 ERA in his two postseason starts covering 12.2 innings.
With Verlander and Valdez going in the first two games and the Minute Maid Park crowd roaring behind them, it’s definitely a quick advantage for the Astros, even with Philly’s top two pitchers likely to oppose them.