Baseball

MHJ’s Tough Cover Column: “It’s the Whole Team” World Series preview

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Usually when I’m writing my Tough Cover Column, I am writing about football or basketball picks and futures. But with the Philadelphia Phillies making the run they have, I wanted to get some thoughts out about this run as well as give out some picks for the World Series.

Before I get to the main point of this column and walk you through some of the best moments from this postseason, I want to complain a little bit about some of the narrative heading into the Fall Classic. Everyone seems to have run with the large win disparity and how lucky of a run this has been for the Phillies. While it’s definitely been surprising and unpredictable, I don’t think it’s quite as much of a fluke as some would have you believe.

After starting 21-29, the team went 66-46 to close the year with a new manager. Compare that to a team like the Yankees that won 99 games, but only went 64-48 in their last 112 games. So while the Phillies “only won 87 games”, they have been playing some of the best baseball in the MLB over a large sample size dating back to June. This isn’t brand new. On top of that, that run was largely without Bryce Harper, who is currently the best hitter on the planet. Secondly, a team with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola as a pitching duo to lead the way was ALWAYS going to be dangerous in the playoffs. Hitting gets you to the playoffs, Pitching keeps you in the playoffs. We’ll get to that in a little bit when discussing MVPs. Lastly, the Phillies did not play some easy road to get here. They played and beat a very good division-winning Cardinals team with the soon-to-be MVP on the road in two games. Then, they beat the defending World Series Champions in four games. Then, they beat the Padres, who beat the best team on paper that I’ve ever seen in the Dodgers, in five games out of a potential seven. This is not a fluke. Rant over.

The thing I can’t shake about this playoff run and the reason that I wanted to write this piece is because it hasn’t just been one guy, like many are saying. Extremely similarly to the 2008 Phillies and the 2017 Eagles, we’ve seen so many different guys step up in important moments. As Jason Kelce would say, “IT’S THE WHOLE TEAM!” Obviously, Harper has been the best player in baseball in the 2022 postseason and the national media has ran with the narrative that he has carried us here. But if you’ve been watching, you’ve seen how many guys have stepped up in different and spots and had their moments. I’m here to show you just how many of them have.

EVERYONE HAS HAD THEIR MOMENT: PHILLIES EDITION

1. Kyle Schwarber
After a tough start to the playoffs in the Wild Card and NLDS, Schwarber mashed 3 homers in the NLCS. He had a TOWERING bomb in Game 1, a leadoff homer in Game 3 and a necessary insurance HR in Game 4.

2. Rhys Hoskins
Do I even need to explain? We all know what this man has done. Rhys had 4 home runs in the NLCS after a tough start to the playoffs. A two-homer game in the NLCS. And obviously, his homer off Strider in the NLDS and the ensuing bat spike will never be forgotten.

3. J.T. Realmuto
The biggest thing that JT has provided in this run has been consistency. His biggest moment was the Inside the Park Home Run in Game 4 of the NLDS, a moment I’ll remember forever as someone who attended Game 4. He also added a HR in Game 4 of the NLCS, another game . But perhaps most importantly, he got on base for Bryce to hit a 2-run homer in Game 5 against San Diego, which obviously became the series-winning homer that clinched our way to the World Series.


4. Bryce Harper
You already know what the MVP has done in October…so far. Let’s check out some of the best moments of his historic run.

5. Nick Castellanos
Three hits in G1 against ATL, 2 hits in G3, RBI double in G4 of NLCS. Even though Castellanos has been incredibly disappointing this year, at least he’s made up for a bit in the postseason.

6. Alec Bohm
The most shocking defensive turnaround I have ever seen from a baseball player and he has flashed the leather in the postseason. He’s also come through at the plate consistently. RBI double in Game 1 against STL. Scored in Game 2 against STL after being hit by a pitch and clapping it up. 2 RBI’s in Game 1 against ATL. 2 hits and RBI double in Game 3 against SD.

7. Bryson Stott
RBI Double in G3 against ATL. 2-3 with 2 doubles in G3 against SD. My personal favorite was the Lefty/Lefty RBI Double he came up with in Game 4 of the NLCS.

8. Jean Segura
Jean had 2 RBI’s in the 9th of Game 1 of the Wild Card series against St. Louis. Jean had an RBI double in Game 1 against Atlanta. He went 3-4 in Game 4 in the series-clincher of the NLDS. But most importantly, Game 3 against San Diego of the NLCS was the Jean Segura game and it will always be remembered as such.

9. Brandon Marsh
Marsh’s Game 4 homer against Atlanta in the NLDS clincher will go down as one of the best moments of my life as a sports fan. I witnessed it in person at Citizens Bank Park and he lit the place on absolute fire in a way that could not be extinguished until hours after the game ended. He started the party that day for the city of Philadelphia.

10. Edmundo Sosa
His Game 1 slide against St. Louis was part of the 9th inning rally that kicked this postseason off right. As Chief Keef would say…never mind.

11. Zack Wheeler
On his Cole Hamels wave. Looking like Doc Halladay. I could bore you with stats but he’s been incredible in all 3 starts. Check it out below.

12. Aaron Nola
Had a shut-down start in Game 2 against St. Louis. Then, he shoved in Game 3 against a fantastic Braves offense in the first playoff game in Citizens Bank Park in 11 years. Sure, he struggled in San Diego but they would not have sniffed the NLCS or World Series without Aaron Nola.

13. Ranger Suarez
My favorite Philadelphia Phillie. Not enough can be said about how important Ranger has been to this team all year long and he became even more important in the NLCS. Pitched an absolute gem in Game 3 against SD and came in at the most important moment and recorded the series-clinching Save in Game 5 of the NLCS. For years to come, when we reminisce and watch the final out of the NLCS that sent us to the World Series, it will be Ranger Suarez making that pitch. As a Ranger Stan, typing that gives me literal chills.

14. Noah Syndergaard
Solid Opener in Game 4 against ATL, which turned into the clincher. Solid 1.1 innings in Game 4 against the Padres in a game he should have started. I certainly hope that he starts Game 4 on Tuesday and has some more moments.

15. David Robertson
Good inning in Game 1 against STL. 1.2 IP in Game 4 against SD. Let’s not talk about Game 5.

16. Jose Alvarado
Strike 1. Strike 2. Good luck.

17. Zach Eflin
Who would’ve thought that Zach Eflin had closer stuff? This man has had some incredibly important moments. He closed the clincher to get to playoffs against Houston. Saved Game 1 AND Game 2 of the Wild Card series. He was also great in Game 3 and Game 4 against SD. He also dropped a few F-bomb’s on Live TV, which is a noted Philadelphia crowd pleaser.

18. Seranthony Dominguez
His entire postseason besides Game 5 against San Diego has been nothing short of immaculate. Dominguez has been one of the 7-10 most important players over the course of this postseason. Summon Seranthony for one more round.

19. Connor Brogdon

Connor Brogdon, Filthy 84mph Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/CCsHMnpxqW

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 23, 2022

20. Andrew Bellatti
Bellatti is a guy I’ve always liked due to his filthy strikeout arsenal. He got us out of multiple jams this postseason. Most notably, Game 4 against San Diego.

So there it is. TWENTY Phillies have had their “Hallmark” Postseason October moments, which is why I am so confident that this team is going to continue their magic for another week or two. Let’s close it down with official Tough Cover predictions:

  • Phillies +160 to win series(5u to win 8u)
  • Phillies +1.5 Games(-135)(1u)(series must either be won by Philly or go 7 games)
  • Phillies +150 to win Game 1(4u to win 6u)

WORLD SERIES MVP BETS:

  • Aaron Nola(+2000)(1u)
  • Zack Wheeler(+1900)(1u)
  • Rhys Hoskins(+1900)(1u)

You can follow Mark Henry Jr. on Twitter (@MarkHenryJr_) and listen to the Tough Cover Radio Show every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio The Gambler.

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