After making the playoffs with the sixth and final wild-card spot in the NL, the Philadelphia Phillies swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round.
Those two starters dominated a good Cardinals lineup, with neither giving up a run in 13 combined innings.
Having to play in St. Louis for every game in this series was no small task for a Phillies team that struggled on the road during the season.
The Phillies were 40-41 on the road this season and will have to get comfortable doing that all playoffs.
When it comes to the top two starting pitchers left on any team in the NL, the Phillies can match up with any team.
Wheeler was the star in game one when he threw 6.1 scoreless innings, despite getting no run support.
Then in the clincher, Nola was marvelous throwing 6.2 scoreless in the win.
— MLB (@MLB) October 9, 2022
The two names the Phillies had to shut down to win these series were Goldschmidt and Arenado.
Batting third and fourth in the St. Louis lineup the sluggers combined to go 1-15 with six strikeouts in the series.
It was rare to see them struggle so much with the season on the line, but the Phillies pitchers did a great job of attacking them.
Alvarado struggled in game one allowing the only two runs of the series for the Cardinals.
But, he came back and was excellent in game two getting two key outs.
Eflin has entered into an unfamiliar role as the closer on the team and excelled in this series.
It appears that manager Rob Thomson has a good feel for which pitchers he trusts out of the bullpen.
Which will be crucial in the NLDS.
Facing A Familiar Foe
As the Phillies get ready to start the NLDS on Thursday, they will be taking on their division rival, Atlanta Braves.
This five-game series will be a great chance for some lesser-known Phillies starters to step up.
Wheeler and Nola will most likely be unavailable for game one.
So, Ranger Suarez will have to step up and give the Phillies a good outing to start the division series.
In a series that has a 2-2-1 setup, the Phillies will need to steal one of the first two games on the road.
Their high-priced hitters need to show up in Atlanta.
Bryce Harper hit a key home run in game two vs the Cardinals.
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) October 9, 2022
That will not be good enough if they plan on getting past the Braves.
Atlanta is loaded with talent on paper but the Phillies held their own against them this year.
In 19 games, Atlanta won the season series 11-8.
It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can be that one wild-card winner that catches fire at the right time and makes a deep run in the postseason.
They have a good combination of veterans and young players that all have the ability to make an impact on any game.
But, the pitching staff and bullpen will continue to be the leading force.