NLCS: Mike Clevinger and Padres Are Overwhelmed in Philadelphia
While it took home-field advantage away from the Cardinals for Philadelphia to make the National League Division Series, a second-half surge in San Diego finally made the Padres the NL West’s heavy favorites. But with the Cards’ offense playing nearly three years of the season without Clayton Kershaw, there’s reason to wonder if the Dodgers’ potent offense will get its best opportunity to play the Reds on Monday.
The Phillies looked overachieving with ace Cole Hamels out of the lineup, their pitching rotation at full strength and their offense on the cusp of a breakthrough.
A week ago, the Cardinals appeared to be a dark horse to take out the NL home-field advantage. The Cards finished 30-24 and still looked headed for a deep playoff run. Their pitching staff looked like it belonged in the postseason. Their offense was just rolling along and the game seemed to be in their hands.
But a series of unexpected setbacks — from Hamels’ latest slump to the injury to right-hander Adam Wainwright, to the disappointing play of their best infielders — threw the NLDS against the Phillies into its lowest gear.
Philadelphia came through, putting the Cards on the brink of elimination at one point Tuesday night. But they have left the door open to get back into the NLDS.
Mike Moustakas of the Padres is the current NL Player of the Week.
On Wednesday, the Padres are back in action against the Cardinals, and unlike the Phillies, they have a pitching staff that can go long stretches without a game. They also have a lineup that can give the Cards whatever they want until the ninth inning.
It’s no wonder then, that the Padres went on to win the NL West by an average of three games, by a total of 16.
The Phillies have the talent — albeit, not without caveats — to win the division, but it still makes the National League Division Series even more challenging for the Padres.