Phillies playoff dates, times, opponent and potential pitching matchups originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies are headed to the playoffs for the first time in a decade and have their starting rotation lined up exactly how they want.
Zack Wheeler in Game 1. Aaron Nola in Game 2.
The first round of the postseason is a Best of Three series with all three games at the home park of the higher seed. The Phils are not guaranteed a home playoff game. They won’t play again at Citizens Bank Park this calendar year unless they can win their first series against the Cardinals or Mets.
Here are some specifics on what lies ahead for the Phils:
Dates and times
The Phillies’ first-round series begins Friday night, Oct. 7. The series will play out over three consecutive days (if needed).
Times haven’t yet been assigned to the first-round games, which will air on ESPN.
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The Phils will have one day off between the end of the regular season and the beginning of their playoff series, though they can also give players a breather here and there over the final two games in Houston now that they’ve clinched.
Perhaps most importantly, they can rest key relievers.
The NLDS begins Oct. 11. Should the Phillies advance, they’d be guaranteed at least one off day between rounds, two if they end it early.
The Phillies will likely face the Cardinals. They could potentially move past the Padres for the second wild-card spot, in which case they’d face the Mets — unless the Mets sweep the Nationals while the Braves lose their final two to the Marlins, a highly unlikely scenario.
The Phils are one game behind the Padres but own the head-to-head tiebreaker. To move up a spot, the Phillies would need to finish one game better than the Padres over the final two.
As explained here, the Phillies might be incentivized to stay put and play St. Louis. The postseason path from the fifth seed looks much more difficult than from the sixth seed because it would mean opening the first round against against Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, then facing the Dodgers if you advance.
The playoffs do not re-seed. The team that wins the 3-6 matchup plays the 2-seed. The team that wins the 4-5 matchup plays the 1-seed.
Potential pitching matchups
The Phillies will have Wheeler going in Game 1 and Nola going in Game 2 on regular rest.
Ranger Suarez would likely pitch in Game 3 if there is one. The Cardinals have two of the top right-handed hitters in baseball in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, so it’s possible the Phils could use a right-handed opener like Zach Eflin before turning to Suarez.
St. Louis hasn’t declared a playoff rotation yet and has numerous options. Adam Wainwright will start a game. Left-hander Jordan Montgomery likely will, too, especially with the presence of Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper.
Right-hander Miles Mikolas, a contact-based groundballer, had a 3.30 ERA this season in 199⅓ innings, but when things go south for him it can happen quickly and emphatically. Jack Flaherty is another option. He made only eight starts this season but has pitched well the last two. Lefty Jose Quintana is another choice.
The Cardinals would pull out all the stops, as teams do this time of year. Either team might pull a starting pitcher after three innings if he just doesn’t have it and do its best to play matchups from there.
If the Phillies were to face the Mets, they’d be seeing deGrom, Scherzer and Chris Bassitt, likely in that order. The two aces can no-hit you through six or seven innings with double-digit strikeouts on any given night, and Bassitt shut the Phillies down four times this season, all Mets wins.
Seeding is still TBD with the second and third wild-card unsettled between the Padres and Phillies so there is still reason to scoreboard-watch over the regular season’s final 48 hours.