The Phillies ended an 11-year playoff drought when they held onto the final Wild Card spot in the newly expanded postseason format, edging out the 86-win Brewers and finishing with an 87-75 record on the year. They’re in St. Louis for a best-of-three showdown with a Cardinals team that’s hoping to extend the farewell tour of several iconic veterans. Zack Wheeler will take the mound opposite resurgent Cardinals lefty Jose Quintana in this afternoon’s series opener. Here’s how the Phillies’ roster breaks down…
- Andrew Bellatti
- Connor Brogdon
- Seranthony Dominguez
- Zach Eflin
- Kyle Gibson
- Aaron Nola (Game 2 starter)
- David Robertson
- Noah Syndergaard
- Zack Wheeler (Game 1 starter)
Both Sosa, who’d been on the injured list with a hamstring strain, and Hand, who’d been shelved with elbow tendinitis, were formally activated from the IL today in order to be placed on the playoff roster. With each of Syndergaard, Falter and Gibson making the cut, the Phillies are effectively carrying six starting pitchers, though the majority of them will be working out of relief. Eflin technically gives them seven starters on the roster, though the veteran righty and free-agent-to-be shifted to the bullpen down the stretch after spending more than two months on the injured list this summer due to a knee injury.
The Phillies’ deadline pickups this year proved to pivotal in their return to the playoffs. Marsh, a longtime top prospect with the Angels, provided some needed defense in the outfield and hit .288/.319/.455 down the stretch with his new club. However, it’ll be the St. Louis native and right-handed-hitting Vierling getting the Game 1 nod in center against the left-handed Quintana. Both Syndergaard and Robertson, meanwhile, provided solid innings to help the Phils overcome injuries on the staff. Sosa, acquired mainly for his glove, hit .315/.345/.593 in a small sample of 59 plate appearances before landing on the shelf.
Taking a step back, the Phillies’ very presence in the postseason is somewhat incredible, given their catastrophic start to the season. As of June 3, the Phillies sat at 22-29 on the season — the result of a miserable losing streak that ultimately led to the firing of manager Joe Girardi. Bench coach Rob Thomson ascended to the manager’s chair, and while Phils fans might’ve hoped the shakeup would result in better play, few could’ve realistically forecasted a surge back into postseason contention at that point. It’s not quite a 2019 Nationals turnaround — the Nats were 19-31 at their low point — but the Phils will hope for a similar Cinderella story to play out in 2022.