Why the Phillies' bats give them the edge in the Wild Card Series

The Phillies face a tough Miami Marlins team in the NL Wild Card but the Phillies' offense gives them the advantage they need to move on to the NLDS.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Going into the 2023 season, the Phillies anticipated their offense would carry them through the regular season and deep into the playoffs. Although the season didn’t start out as planned and there have been a number of factors contributing to their turnaround and recent success, the offense came around as expected to guide them home.

For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies had six players hit 20+ home runs in a single season: Kyle Schwarber (47), Nick Castellanos (29), Trea Turner (26), Bryce Harper (21), J.T. Realmuto (20) and Alec Bohm (20). Other than the home run power, this offense had contributors up and down the lineup. Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas all played a significant role in working counts, getting on base at a high clip and coming up clutch when the moment called for it.

As a team, the Phillies ranked fourth in the NL in batting average (.256), third in OPS (.765), fifth in on-base percentage (.327), third in home runs (220) and fourth in total runs scored (796). The offense was as advertised and will likely be a major reason why the Phillies make a deep run in this year's postseason.

The Phillies' match-up in the NL Wild Card Series is their division rival Miami Marlins. The Marlins have been a thorn in the Phillies' side for many years and have a chance to dig that thorn in deeper now in the playoffs. But the Phillies have different plans, and the fans will surely give a loud welcome to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies offense is hitting its stride at the perfect time, giving them the edge in the series against the Fish.

The Marlins will trot out two left-handed starters in Jesús Luzardo on Tuesday in Game 1 and Braxton Garrett on Wednesday in Game 2 in the hopes of lessening the damage of the Phillies' most impactful hitters like lefties Harper, Schwarber and Stott.

However, on the season, the splits against left- and right-handed pitchers are astonishingly similar.

Against RHP, the Phillies slash .256/.327/.759 and against LHP, they slash .256/.327/.778. In fact, in 4,343 plate appearances against righties the Phillies hit 144 home runs, while in 1,864 plate appearances, a 79.87 percent difference, they hit 76 home runs, just a 61.81 percent difference. The Phillies have hit for relatively more power against lefties.

The Phillies lineup showcases a team that doesn’t give the opposing pitcher an easy at-bat or a moment to catch their breath. As a team, they get on base at a higher clip (.326) in high-leverage situations than they do in low-leverage situations (.323). The team has a knack to work counts and keep the line moving.

They also have the third most comeback wins in the entire MLB, with 44 such wins. While they also top the list with eight ninth-inning comebacks. They have proven to have a “never die” attitude and have consistently shown that they are not out of the game at any point.

Rob Thomson, as he has loved to do, can play matchups with all his weapons. The Phillies have announced their NL Wild Card roster and, surprisingly, are carrying 14 hitters, including Weston Wilson, Cristian Pache and Jake Cave. All three can come off the bench with a clutch hit. If one of them is plugged in to start, having Marsh off the bench is a scary option to opposing teams.

At the end of the day, the Phillies lineup has too many hitters who can rise to the occasion and have a game-changing at bat. But like so many times during the 2023 regular season and in the 2022 playoffs, teams will try to keep Harper from beating them.

However, trying to neutralize the superstar is a feat not easily done. On the year, he has slashed .296/.413/.907 against RHP and .289/.374/.884 against LHP. Not to mention his clutch stats are through the roof. According to Baseball Reference, in late and close games, he is hitting .387/.495/1.161 which is mind-boggling. Harper is made for the moment and when given a chance has come through more often than not.

While the starting pitching has to perform up to their standards, and the bullpen has to be able to close out games, it's the Phillies' offense that gives this team the edge against the Marlins.