Friday night kicks off the 2022 World Series with a few familiar household names.
The long lay off between the Championship Series is over as the World Series kicks off tomorrow night starting at 8pm. All the games will be on FOX as the Philadelphia Phillies start on the road against the Astros. The game one pitching matchup has Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.12ERA) taking on former Tigers ace Justin Verlander (1-0, 6.35 ERA). Verlander will be the 17th pitcher age 39 or older to start in the World Series.
Verlander is looking to win his first game in the World Series. For his career, he is 0-6 with an ERA of 5.68 in the Fall Classic, including two losses in the 2019 series against the Nationals. But, ignore that for a moment because what JV is doing this post-season for his age has been one of the top storylines. Just a year after Tommy John surgery, he is topping the gun at 98. Per David Adler of MLB.com, Verlander has hit 98 MPH 16 times this season, the most of any starting pitcher in the pitch-tracking era past the age of 35.
Next, the rest of the Astros staff has been just as good. In 36 innings of work against the Yankees, they posted a 1.50 ERA, allowing 9 runs over 36 innings of work. Right-hander Framber Valdez has had a stellar post-season. Batters are hitting just .170/ .220/ .255 against him in two post-season appearances this season, with an ERA of 1.42 and a FIP of 1.46.
Philly’s road to the World Series
The imprint of Dave Dombrowski has been all over this team since he has been hired as President of Baseball Operations. So much, in fact, that Justin Verlander could smell him.
All jokes aside, Dombrowski was not afraid to make changes. He signed Kyle Schwaber and former Tiger Nick Castellanos in late March. In June, he fired Joe Girardi after a 22-29 start. From there, bench coach Rob Thomson took over and at the trade deadline, he traded for Noah Syndergaard. The upgrades in talent have been enough for reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. Harper, this postseason, has provided some clutch moments. He is 18-for-43 (.419/ .444/ .907) with an OPS of 1.351. This opposite field home run was the encapsulation of his time in a Phillies uniform. The outward expression, afterwards, stands out.
The rotation, led by Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, also features another former Tigers draft pick, right-hander Corey Knebel. Knebel, was Dombrowski’s first-round draft pick in 2013, was flipped the following season in the Joakim Soria deal to the Rangers. He has posted an ERA of 1.72 this post-season out of the bullpen.
The obvious take is that many Tigers fans will pull for the Phillies because of the past Tigers ties, and the stench of the Astros as “cheaters” may still hang over the team. Whatever side you may be on, I expect a good World Series. My prediction? Houston wins in six games.
Photo credit: © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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