3 Phillies who deserve the most praise for NL Wild Card sweep

As expected, the Phillies' offense showed up during the series, but the pitching took the spotlight to help push the team to the NLDS.
Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Aaron Nola

Not to be outdone, Aaron Nola was the definition of efficient in Game 2 on Wednesday night. The right-hander gave the team seven shutdown innings. He only surrendered three hits and one walk on 88 pitches, proving when they are on, a one-two punch of Wheeler and Nola is key to the team's success in the postseason.

While Nola has struggled at times this season, he has been a workhorse for this ballclub, and manager Rob Thomson has faith in him to pull through during big moments. With good reason. As SportsRadio 94WIP pointed out, Nola has shown up the past two postseasons when it matters the most and it's time to clinch a spot in the playoffs or the next round:

And to add some flair, Nola also nabbed a runner trying to take an extra base. In Game 2, Nola picked off shortstop Jon Berti, who was trying to steal third with one out in the top of the third with the score tied 0-0. The Phillies would go on to score two in the bottom half of the inning, and Nola cruised through four more frames.

Nola should be ready to go for Game 3 against Atlanta on Wednesday.

J.T. Realmuto

The Phillies hit 220 home runs in the regular season, eighth-most in MLB. In the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday night, catcher J.T. Realmuto notched their first homer of the 2023 postseason, staking the club to a 3-0 lead.

Overall in the series, Realmuto went 3-for-8 with one RBI and two runs, including a double and home run in the clinching Game 2.

Oh, and those previous two players mentioned? Credit Realmuto with calling two great games behind the plate. It didn't escape the notice of folks in the other dugout how important Realmuto is to ensuring the success of the Phillies pitchers with his ability to adapt in-game and make adjustments as needed behind the plate.

As Marlins manager Skip Schumaker noted after the series ended, according to Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia: "Wheeler and Nola, those guys are going to haunt my dreams. ... They were — the common denominator, and he doesn't get enough credit, at least I don't hear enough — is J.T. He's good back there, as good as anybody in the big leagues, and he is maybe the best in the big leagues, honestly."

Outside of the two starters, the Phillies bullpen arms threw 4 1/3 innings, giving up one run and no walks.

The Phillies will score their runs; the ballclub is set up to be a grind, No. 1 through No. 9, for opposing pitchers. But if the Phillies can continue to get this level of production and efficiency from their starters with Realmuto calling the games behind the plate, fans should buckle up for an intense NLDS against the 104-win Atlanta Braves — and opposing teams should prepare for haunted dreams of their own.