By AJ Johnson
NLDS: Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves
The first round of the MLB postseason ended faster than an attendance count at Tropicana Field thanks to sweeps in all four wild-card series. As the division series matchups are set and about to begin, I have a good idea of which team could be this year’s version of the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies and make a deep postseason run as a wild-card team.
So, my BOLD prediction after watching the wild card round of the 2023 MLB playoffs is that the team most likely to be the next 2022 Phillies is – the 2023 Phillies.
The Phillies looked more dominant than other teams in the wild-card round during their two-game smashing of the Miami Marlins. They have the talent, experience, poise, the determination to win and an incredible home-field advantage at Citizens Bank Park with that loud, passionate and intimidating Philly crowd.
As obvious in the wild card round against Miami, the Phillies Phans are clearly ready to go for another “Red October” run and keep “Dancing on their own.” – (I absolutely hate that stupid song!)
After watching the way this team flipped the switch mid-way through the season it’s pretty easy to make the case that this is a better, deeper team than the one that barely made it into the postseason before their incredible run last year. They clearly showed that theMarlins were no match whatsoever. The 2023 Marlins were a great story (if only anyone in Miami actually cared) but it was clear from the first pitch of the series that the Marlins had no chance to advance.
Trea Turner is a new addition to the 2023 Phillie team, and he was great in the Marlins series. J.T. Realmuto came through, and Mr Las Vegas Bryson Stott lit up the big stage with a primetime grand slam. And, Aaron Nola (who could go either way depending on what kind of groove he is in) was absolutely fantastic in his first start in these playoffs. To top it all off – Bryce Harper hasn’t even needed to be Bryce Harper – yet!!
Nola’s seven shutout innings, three hits and one walk allowed start has Philadelphia in the position to once again form a great one-two punch between Nola and Zack Wheeler, which makes them the most dangerous of the eight teams still standing.
Now the Phillies move on to what in my opinion will be their toughest test this postseason, The Atlanta Braves, who were the best team in baseball this season.
While the Braves have been on ice for the past week playing pretend games against themselves, in an empty stadium – (which I am sure Spencer Strider actually prefers) the Phillies easily destroyed the Marlins in an electric CBP and began a postseason roll that I don’t think any team can stop. The Braves had a better regular season record, the Braves broke and set all sorts of new MLB season records, the Braves have a great fan base and lots of talent. The Phillies have un-phinished business.