The Phillies secured a 5-3 victory over the Diamondbacks in Monday night's NLCS-opening contest. Zack Wheeler was at his best on the mound and three separate players homered, including Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos and Bryce Harper.
Harper went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two driven in and a walk. Turns out, this guy is pretty dang good.
His five-year stint on the Phillies has been injury-riddled, as he has made it into over 140 games just two times along the way, but Harper is doing nothing but padding his Hall of Fame resumé as time goes on. Just two years ago he brought home his second MVP Award and this year he posted yet another season with an OPS+ over 140, which puts him well above league-average at the plate.
Yesterday was the superstar's 31st birthday and he did what he does best and that's hit massive home runs in clutch situations. Harper has the specific gene that some of the best baseball players of all-time have when they are at their best in high-pressure moments.
As he was rounding the bases, Harper held up four fingers to show "3-1" and he appeared to blow out candles. The ballpark went nuts when he did this and he joined three other players as the only ones in MLB history to hit a home run on his birthday.
In 43 career playoff games, Harper has a whopping 15 home runs with a .292 batting average and 1.044 OPS. Stat guru Sarah Langs took to X to provide even more context to his insane postseason performance(s) since joining the Phillies.
Moving forward, the Phillies are emerging as the favorites to not only win the NLCS, but to take home the elusive World Series trophy this time around. In the NLDS, writers from The Athletic heavily favored the Braves in that matchup, but it sounds like even the Phillies' biggest skeptics are starting to realize that this club is legit. Last year's team fell just short in the World Series, but the 2023 version looks to be much more promising.