13 reasons the Phillies are in the World Series for the first time in 13 years: Bryce Harper, hoagies, more

PHILADELPHIA CREAM — The Philadelphia Phillies go to the World Series. This sentence was unfathomable five months ago, and it would have been difficult to grasp at the start of the 2022 season. MLB playoffs just two weeks ago (who could have foreseen this?). But it’s true. Bryce Harper hit the biggest home run of his life a rainy Sunday afternoon in South Philadelphia and the The Phillies shut down the Padres in Game 5 of the NLCS.

It was a magical run to the NL pennant for a team that had eight games under .500 when the schedule rolled over in June. So, in honor of the Phillies’ first trip to the World Series in 13 years, let’s take a look at 13 Reasons They’re Here.

1. Bryce Harper

This list can only start in one place. Bryce Harper is the main reason the Phillies are where they are as a team and as a franchise. Harper knocked the Phillies off the path of a failed rebuilder when he signed a $330 million contract 42 months ago, and he led them to the Fall Classic in his first playoff run playoffs with the team.

Harper was the leading hitter on any team in the 2022 playoffs. He proved fully recovered from a broken thumb suffered in June when he went deep in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Cardinals, and he hasn’t looked back. He entered Sunday’s game .410/.439/.872 with four home runs and nine RBIs in the Phillies’ first 10 playoff games. Then he added two more hits, including the biggest home run of his career.

Rhys Hoskins had eight hits in the 2022 MLB Playoffs. Five were homers. Three of them featured beautiful bat flips.

Let’s go back to NLDS Game 3 first, when the Braves rookie Spencer Strider picked the wrong time to throw his slowest fastball of the year. Hoskins knew he was gone before he finished his swing and then launched the Bat Spike™️. Watch it in all its glory:

Then, in Saturday Night’s Game 4 win over the Padres, Hoskins took Sean Manee deep for his second dinner of the game. He has answered John SotoThe two-run homer earlier in the inning, and two batters later, the Phillies had the lead. Hoskins had a softer approach to his celebration.

He capped things off on Sunday, as Hoskins started the scoring against Padres starter Yu Darvish:

Variety, they say, is the spice of playoff bat eliminations.

3. Kyle Schwarber hit titanic explosions

Would you like to read more words? Or would you like to watch a replay of Kyle Schwarber hitting a ball from 488 feet?

If you enjoyed this, can I also recommend this hulking beauty in game 4:

Schwarber hit three homers in the NLCS against San Diego after hitting none in the first six games of the playoffs. And yes, of course, we have a sandwich-related explanation for this upcoming surge.

4. Wawa presented the “Schwarberfest”

Wawa, the supplier of the nation’s top gas station hoagies, played a part in that World Series run. Obviously. The Philadelphia-area institution introduced “Schwarberfest” during the NLCS, and the results speak for themselves.

A little background: every summer, Wawa organizes the “Hoagiefest”. It’s the best party in the country, says this writer, and the convenience store sells its hoagies at reduced prices. During Hoagiefest 2022, Schwarber was a home run machine. Schwarber hit 15 of his NL-leading 46 home runs in 34 games at Hoagiefest (June 20-July 31). That’s a 162 game pace of 71 dingers.

After struggling in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Wawa introduced Schwarberfest (i.e. $5 Shortis and $6 Classics). Schwarber then hit three homers in five games.

It takes a village. And he also picks up discount hoagies at the village’s beloved gas station.

Yes, we are discussing part of Jean Segura’s defensive range at second base. It was on full display in NLCS Game 3 on Friday night.

But we are mainly talking about the Segura range at the level of the plate. The veteran infielder had two hits in crucial moments in the Phillies’ race to the pennant. The first came in a six-run ninth inning against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the Wild Card series. Look where this pitch was:

Not to be outdone, Segura slapped another pitch he didn’t have to hit against Joe Musgrrove in NLCS Game 3.

Segura has waited longer than any other active MLB player to make his playoff debut, and he’s making the most of October no matter where he’s pitched.

Welcome to the pitch portion of this list. Wheeler was absolutely stellar in this run. The right-hander didn’t pick up a win in Sunday’s closing game, but he threw six solid innings, allowing just two earned runs. In his three postseason starts before Sunday, Wheeler had a 1.40 ERA and a .109 batting average against.

Nola followed Wheeler into the Phillies’ playoff rotation, and he makes it on this list as well. The oldest Phillie has been mostly superb since the calendar switch in October. Since making his debut against the Astros in the Phillies’ decisive win on Oct. 3, Nola has a 2.25 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24 innings. In fact, all of Nola’s earned runs allowed in October came in his NLCS Game 2 loss to the Padres. Otherwise, he was turned off and he could face the Astros again in the Fall Classic.

8. The Two Aces (bullpen)

José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez formed a hell of a 1-2 punch in the Phillies bullpen. Playoff numbers:

  • Alvarado: 8 IP, 3.38 ERA, 9K, 1.13 WHIP, 1 SV
  • Dominguez: 7 2/3 IP, 1.17 ERA, 15K, 0.39 WHIP, 1 SV

Like the Phillies as a whole, it was far from certain that these two relievers would be in this position. Alvarado was sent to the minors for a spell earlier in the season, then was turned off when called up. He even has his own slogan and t-shirts.

Domínguez, meanwhile, has been electric (despite three crazy pitches in the rain on Sunday) since the start of the playoffs after returning from a season-ending injury. In NLCS Game 3, Domínguez recorded the Phillies’ first playoff save six times since Tug McGraw closed the Royals in the World Series exactly 42 years earlier.

9. Rob Thompson

Virtually no one knew who Rob Thomson was in Philadelphia on opening day. The bench coach was named interim manager when Joe Girardi was fired on June 3. One hundred and forty-three days later, Thomson’s interim tag was gone and he led the Phillies to the pennant. He became a Philadelphia cult hero along the way. In presentations at Citizens Bank Park during those playoffs, Thomson’s cheers rivaled Harper’s.

10. Guys with long hair angels

The Phillies didn’t have the splashiest trade deadline, but they did address areas of weakness. Two of their biggest acquisitions were long-haired baseball players from the Los Angeles Angels: Brandon Marsh and Noah Syndergaard.

Syndergaard isn’t the same flamethrower he was earlier in his career with the Mets, but he was a key part of two Game 4 wins the Phillies won in bullpen games. He’s allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings so far in the playoffs.

The other West Coast import is Brandon Marsh, who notably gave the Phillies’ fragile defense some stability in center field. He also had an offensive moment against the Braves.

11. Energy of Eagles

Welcome to the Vibes section of this list. It’s a good time to be a Philadelphia sports fan (as long as you don’t care about the 76ers’ early-season results). The Eagles are the only undefeated team left in the NFLand the Phillies’ run as the No. 6 seed in the NL Group resembles the run the Eagles made for their first superbowl title in 2018.

Need additional proof? Here’s legendary Eagles center Jason Kelce hugging the Phanatic and drinking a beer on the field during Game 3 of the NLCS.

12. They have a theme song

The Phillies adopted “Dancing on My Own” (the Tiesto remix of a Calum Scott song which is a cover of a Robyn song) as their October theme song. It was played at Citizens Bank Park after wins, at the clubhouse during celebrations and even at Lincoln Financial Field after the Eagles beat the Cowboys last week.

13. Fans

A few dozen paragraphs could be written trying to explain the atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park, where more than 45,000 playoff-starved fans were as vocal as possible from first pitch to last in their first five games after -season since 2011. They’ve given the Phillies an unmatched home-court advantage in these playoffs, and they’re 5-0 at home.

Here’s a look at things inside the stadium on Sunday:

And outside the stadium:

Yes, they will be ready for their first World Series game in 13 years on Halloween night.

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