Astros-Phillies World Series preview, keys to victory

What are the keys to winning the World Series? Locked On’s local experts discuss the benefits Astros and Phillies have ahead of the series.

HOUSTON — The World Series stage is set, and it’s a team that everyone thought would be there, the Houston Astros, and another team that everyone but maybe NL East fans are really excited about, the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies, who advanced to the playoffs with the lowest chance of any playoff team to win the World Series according to oddsmakers, is a good story after beating team after team in the playoffs.

On the Locked On Sports Today Podcast, Locked On Astros Podcast Host Brett Chancey and Locked On Phillies Host Connor Thomas joined Peter Bukowski for a special extended segment to preview the World Series.

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The big question two days before the start of the World Series: who will come out on top? While the Astros are favored as the series winner, the Phillies have beaten off three teams in the playoffs so far as underdogs.

For Chancey, he said the key for the Astros will continue to be strong pitching, especially from the bullpen.

After the Astros gave up seven runs to the Mariners in Game 1 of the ALDS before making a massive comeback capped by a walk-off from Yordan Alvarez, the Astros gave up two or fewer runs in five straight wins before they conceded the ALCS against the Yankees in Game 4 of five runs, a game the Astros won 6-5.

“I think the key is clearly the pitching staff and Houston’s backup pitchers, who gave up just three runs in 30 innings in the postseason. It was Hunter Brown, it was Hector Neris, Montero, Stanek,” Chancey said. “Astro’s closer Ryan Pressly is 9-9 in saves in the postseason, he’s been faultless. I think our pitching is key and the way Dusty Baker used the pitchers, relief pitchers and the starters was a master class and I think it’s probably Dusty’s best handling of a bullpen of his entire career.

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How can the Phillies counteract this? Well, they’ve been extremely successful on the plate this postseason, averaging more than five runs a game. Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper is hitting a whopping .419 on-plate average this postseason with five homers, six doubles and 11 RBIs.

Locked On Phillies host Connor Thomas said Harper is the best player on the planet right now and the supporting cast are great too.

“Bryce Harper is the best player on planet earth right now and he is absolutely amazing. Every time it hits the plate, you feel like something special is about to happen,” said Thomas. “Besides him, this team has been really good at clutch moments and has been grinding at bats, especially some of the young players that Bryson Stott was really big in terms of bat count and kept feeding gaps.”

“They have the guys that don’t often give you the big hit but will still give you really big sluggers,” Thomas continued. “So that’s the saving grace of this lineup of guys who aren’t the big names. They’ll at least bother you with the number of pitches if they’re not the ones getting the big hits.”

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The Astros are also a great hitting team. While they’re not averaging as many runs as the Phillies this postseason, this is a team that can attack at the plate. The Phillies have a number of very talented guns, including a bullpen with multiple pitchers that can hit 100 MPH. What will be the key for Houston at the plate?

“I think the key is their approach,” Chancey said. “The weakness of guys like Jose Altuve is that they push themselves. They rocked a lot. There was the one game where he was 0-7 where they ended up beating the Mariners. But out of the 25 pitches he saw, 18 were outside the zone and he didn’t hit a single one… This team needs to force the pitchers to put the ball in that strike zone. And I think people like Jeremy Pena need to let go of the low sliders. You must stay away from the playing fields. If they don’t expand the zone too much, there’s a lot of power coming in from the Phillies, I think that’s a recipe for success.”

So how do these guys see the series developing?

“The key to this series will be Dusty Baker and how he uses the bullpen,” Chancey said. “The starters have to avoid mistakes early on because this Phillies offensive isn’t going to be as powerless as the Yankees … I think if the Astros can get 4-5 runs a game, the pitching is holding them down and they’re able to, to beat Philadelphia.”

“For the Phillies, the Joker card is about the atmosphere, it’s about the fans,” Thomas said. “It’s Citizens Bank Park, it’s the best home field field advantage in the sport right now and you have three games to play in Philly. The Phillies are unbeaten at home in the postseason and I understand the Astros didn’t lose a game in the postseason, but the Phillies were perfect because of the environment at home… They just seem unbeatable on that field.”

The World Series begins Friday, October 28 in Houston with Game 1. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:03 p.m. on FOX.

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