The Phillies are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011, and they’ll pick up where they left off by facing the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won the NL Central for the first time since 2019, but they’ll have to beat at least one Phillies ace if they want to advance. Zack Wheeler will take the mound for Philadelphia against Jose Quintana and the Cardinals in Game 1.
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Friday’s game at Busch Stadium.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals Betting Odds
The odds have this game as a near toss-up, as the Cardinals are -112 on the moneyline while the Phillies enter at -104. The over/under is set at 7 runs.
The Cardinals were pretty decisively the better team than the Phillies this season, but the challenge in facing Philadelphia in a short series is having to face both Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Jose Quintana was one of the best pitchers in the National League over the last month, so St. Louis remains a very slight favorite at home.
Philadelphia Phillies Starting Lineup
LF K. Schwarber L
1B R. Hoskins R
3B A. Bohm R
DH B. Harper L
C J. Realmuto R
RF N. Castellanos R
2B J. Segura R
CF M. Vierling R
SS B. Stott L
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Jose Quintana
Jose Quintana proved to be a tremendous value signing for the Pirates, who sent him to the Cardinals at the trade deadline. He’s only gotten better since landing in the middle of a postseason race. Quintana has a 2.01 ERA and 2.60 FIP over 12 starts with the Cardinals, and he carries a 2.93 ERA and 3.23 FIP over a full 32 starts.
Despite taking on many more innings than the last two years combined, the resurgent Quintana hasn’t looked worn down at all lately. While he has a tendency to give up some hits (his 1.21 WHIP is higher than you’d expect), he keeps home runs to a minimum with just 8 homers allowed in 165.2 innings this year.
It seems like that will be what makes or breaks this game. The Phillies hit plenty of home runs, sitting 6th in all of baseball with 1.27 HR/game. With Kyle Schwarber starting to swing the bat well again, it’s a great time for the Cardinals to have a pitcher who limits homers.
What’s not ideal is that the Phillies hit left-handers well, batting .266 with a .769 OPS against lefties this season. Philadelphia had a .737 OPS over the final month of the season, down from August but up from early in the season.
Quintana faced the Phillies in his final start as a Pirate in July, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings. Rhys Hoskins had two hits off Quintana in that game, so he could be a bat to watch.
St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
2B B. Donovan L
RF L. Nootbaar L
1B P. Goldschmidt R
3B N. Arenado R
DH A. Pujols R
LF C. Dickerson L
CF D. Carlson S
C Y. Molina R
SS T. Edman S
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler’s 2022 was only a touch behind his 2021, as he continued to justify the contract the Phillies gave him three years ago. Over 26 starts (153 IP), Wheeler posted a 2.82 ERA, 2.89 FIP, and 1.04 WHIP with 163 strikeouts. At 9.4 K/9, Wheeler continues to be a fairly high strikeout pitcher, and he’ll face a low-strikeout team in the Cardinals.
Wheeler hit a rough patch in April but has pitched very well after an IL stint with a 0.60 ERA over his final three starts. He never surpassed 77 pitches after landing on the IL, so could his length be limited in Game 1, or were the Phillies just saving his bullets? With their bullpen, that’s a bit of a concern.
The Cardinals’ offense is still built around Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, though neither has been hitting too well over the past month. Relying on those two alone won’t work in October. With Goldschmidt and Arenado struggling (for their standards), the Cardinals hit just .227 over the final month of the season, with an OPS under .700.
Some of their low-strikeout hitters – Tommy Edman, Nolan Arenado – may fare the best against Wheeler. Albert Pujols also has to be mentioned after his outstanding second half at the plate. Could he be a home run threat? Absolutely.
Wheeler notably tossed seven shutout innings in back-to-back starts against the Cardinals in July.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals Picks & Prediction
My pick: Phillies -104
I have little doubt Wheeler will rise to the challenge of the postseason. He looks fully healthy after hitting a bump in August and has had success against this team already. The Cardinals must hit better than they did late in the year if they want to get past Wheeler and/or Aaron Nola.
The Phillies’ bullpen is always a concern, especially given Seranthony Dominiguez’s recent struggles, so Wheeler keeping his pitch count low is important. The Phillies can certainly steal this one on the road if he does.