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October 18, 2022

NLCS: How do the Phillies match up against the Padres?

Phillies MLB
Bryce-Harper-Phillies_101722_USAT Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper is undoubtedly the face of the Phillies right now.

It's happening folks. The red hot Phillies will be playing the Padres for a chance to represent the National League in the World Series later this month. Over the course of the season series, the Phillies beat San Diego in four of seven games, losing two out of three in May before winning three of four in June.

The Padres outpaced the Phillies for the five seed in the postseason but the two teams are as evenly matched as it gets and both are riding high after upset wins over two of the top contenders in the sport.

As we did with their first two series, let's compare these two NLDS foes on paper:


The Padres starting backstop is Austin Nola, Aaron's brother. He's a solid but not extraordinary catcher, and hit .251 this year. There's a chance San Diego's other catcher gets some looks in the series, and he's a friendly face to Philadelphia in Jorge Alfaro, a former top prospect. He is close to the same, bringing modest power and a .247 average.

The Phillies on the other hand have the BCIB (best catcher in baseball) in J.T. Realmuto, who many would agree has been the team MVP this season. His numbers, while also playing a mean defensive backstop are impressive: .276/.342/.478, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 21 SB. He also had the first inside the park homer in team postseason history against the Braves.

Advantage: Phillies

Hitting for power

Petco Park is not known for allowing long balls, and it makes sense that the Padres bring with them a lack of power. The Phillies have proven this postseason they can score in a variety of ways and that will be good in a big ballpark where they'll need to get at least one win to advance in the series.

Runs/gm4.61 (5th in NL)4.35 (8th)
Homers205 (4th)153 (12th)
Slugging.422 (3rd).382 (11th)
20+ HR hitters3*1

*Harper had 18 and missed 60 games due to injury

Manny Machado had 32 homers to pace the Padres with no other slugger hitting more than 18. They do hit a lot of doubles though, with Machado, Jurickson Profar, Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim each mashing more than 29 of them. They also famously traded for superstar youngster Juan Soto, who has been struggling with the Padres since the move from Washington — but he can pummel the baseball when he's on his game. 

Advantage: Phillies

Getting on base

Across the board the Phillies have a better batting lineup than the Padres, but situational hitting is what matters and San Diego has been good in key situations this season. They also draw a lot of walks.

The numbers:

Batting avg..253 (3rd).241 (8th)
OBP.317 (5th).318 (4th)
 Walks478 (9th)574 (3rd)
Stolen bases105 (3rd)49 (14th)

The Phillies have been a great base running team this season and they have a lot more speed than one might think. Interestingly, the Padres have stranded the most runners on base of any NL team this season. This could be a series decided by hitting with RISP.

Advantage: Phillies

Starting pitching

Wheeler and Nola are as good a one-two punch as there is in baseball and having those two slated to pitch on the road in a pitcher friendly park could put the Phillies in commanding position when things return to Philly. The top two for the Padres are also formidable, as aces Darvish and Snell are potent as well. 

Game 1Zack Wheeler
12-7, 2.82 ERA
Yu Darvish
16-8-3.10 ERA
Game 2Aaron Nola
11-13, 3.25 ERA
Blake Snell
8-10, 3.38 ERA
Game 3Ranger Suárez
10-7, 3.65 ERA
Joe Musgrove
10-7, 2.93 ERA
Game 4Noah Syndergaard
10-10, 3.94 ERA
Mike Clevenger
7-7, 4.34 ERA

The Padres have better pitching depth, as their top three may be better than the Phils' top three, though Suarez has been an effective lefty this season. Syndergaard's start will likely look like the Phillies' series clincher vs. Atlanta that served as essentially a bullpen game. However, if the pen is not well-rested heading into Game 4 in Philadelphia on Saturday, there might be some issues and there could be a reason to tag Kyle Gibson to start.

Advantage: Padres

Relief pitching

As expected, the Phillies' bullpen is not as good as the Padres' bullpen.

Bullpen ERA4.27 (11th)3.84 (5th)
Bullpen saves
42/60 (70%)49/70 (69%)
Key relieversDavid Robertson
José Alverado
 Nick Nelson
Conner Brogdon
Taylor Rogers
Nabil Crismatt
Luis Garcia
Tim Hill
CloserSeranthony Domínguez
(6-5, 3.00 ERA)
Josh Hader
(5.22 ERA, 36 saves)

Philly's pen has been a strength this postseason, particularly in the aforementioned bullpen game. There have been a few blemishes, but it's hard to complain about a bullpen that has helped a playoff contender to a 5-1 record so far in October.

The Padres have not gotten all that they wanted from All-Star Josh Hader, but he's been good in the playoffs and their pen has some depth. Pitching is the clear strength of the Padres and luckily, hitting good pitching has a strength for the Phillies.

Advantage: Padres


Phillies manager Rob Thomson had an incredible first season as an MLB manager, as shown by his recent two-year extension that takes the "interim" tag off his job title. He also was one of the main reasons they won in the first two rounds of the postseason. He is experienced and seems like he has the team firing on all cylinders right now.

Bob Melvin is 15-19 in his 19 year postseason career. This is already shaping up to be the deepest run in his long managing career. He's got experience too. It's a wash.

Advantage: Neither

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