How Monday's postponement could aid Phillies' plans

Extra day lines up starting rotation well, beginning with Suárez

November 1st, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- A little rain could work wonders for the Phillies’ World Series chances.

Major League Baseball postponed Game 3 of the World Series on Monday night because of rain. The Phillies and the Astros will play Game 3 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park. Games 4 and 5 will be played Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Games 6 and 7 in Houston, if necessary, will be pushed to Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Monday’s rain allows the Phillies to line up their pitching in a more favorable way. They will start left-hander Ranger Suárez in Game 3, right-hander Aaron Nola in Game 4 and either righty Noah Syndergaard or righty Kyle Gibson in Game 5.

Zack Wheeler will start Game 6 (if necessary) as previously scheduled, and Suárez will start a potential Game 7.

Here is how this helps the Phillies:

1. Suárez and Nola are two of the Phillies’ top three starters. Now, they will pitch earlier in the series, which helps their chances to take the lead in the best-of-seven series.

2. Syndergaard was scheduled to start Game 3. He would have pitched only three to four innings, meaning the bullpen would have needed to pick up 15 to 18 outs. It remains the case in Game 5, but with a day off Friday, Phillies manager Rob Thomson will feel more comfortable emptying the bullpen.

“That's part of it,” Thomson said about the switch. “We have a day off, and everybody should be ready to go the next day.”

3. Wheeler is experiencing arm fatigue, so now he gets six days of rest between starts. The Phillies hope it helps him rebound. Wheeler’s fastball averaged 97.0 mph in his first four postseason starts, but only 95.2 mph in Game 2 of the World Series on Saturday, when he allowed five runs in five innings in a 5-2 loss.

“He's fine,” Thomson said. “It's just, it's late in the season, velocity's dropped a little bit, he's fatigued. I just feel like he needs more time.”

Wheeler is 1-1 with a 1.67 ERA in five starts with six days of rest or more this season. He is 11-6 with a 3.07 ERA in 21 starts with five days of rest or fewer.

4. Suárez is lined up to pitch Game 7 (if necessary) on normal rest. Before, if the Phillies needed to play a Game 7, it would have been Syndergaard on normal rest or Suárez on short rest.

Thomson said if Syndergaard pitches in Game 3 or Game 4, Gibson is an option to start Game 5. He has thrown only 26 pitches in 1 1/3 innings since he made his final start of the season on Oct. 1 in Washington.

Gibson struggled down the stretch, posting a 9.73 ERA in his final six starts. Thomson attributed his struggles to fatigue, so he expects a better version in Game 5, if he is needed. Gibson could give the Phillies three to four innings.

“He's probably a 60-65 pitch guy,” he said. “I think that's safe.”

But really the crux here is that Suárez and Nola are moved up, Wheeler gets more rest and Suárez pitches in a potential Game 7 on regular rest.

But first is Suárez in Game 3.

“Ever since I was a kid, it's been a dream of mine, so I'm just trying to go out there and do my best,” he said.

Suárez allowed six runs in three innings against the Astros on Oct. 4 at Minute Maid Park. It came less than 24 hours after the Phillies snapped an 11-year postseason drought by clinching the third NL Wild Card.

It was a fun night.

“I really think that I wasn't prepared at all for that start,” Suárez said. “You know, like, we're human beings, too. I had a bad day. Anyone can have a bad day. But looking forward, I'm going to try to be more focused. I'm going to try to attack the strike zone more. I'm going to be locked in. I really have to locate my pitches. That's a big factor there. That's going to determine a lot of my game tomorrow.”