2022 World Series Game 3 storylines

I was never worried about a sweep – the Phillies are hot, but nobody. which one hot — but Saturday’s Game 2 action has ensured that this World Series will last at least five … and it certainly looks, in these eyes, to potentially be much longer than that. The Astros’ 5-2 win in Game 2 sends the Series back to Philly tied, with a host of questions still unanswered.

Here’s a look at the five biggest storylines heading into Monday night’s Game 3:

1) Can Philly contain the resurgent Jose Altuve?
Because the Astros had the AL West wrapped up so quickly, many people missed how fantastic of a year Altuve had in 2022. (His 160 OPS+ was tied for his career high, which came in the his 2017 MVP campaign). But the playoffs got off to the most miserable start possible for him: until an ALCS Game 2 double in the fifth inning, he was 0-for-25 in the playoffs. Since that double, though, he’s 6 for 15 and it was the lie in Game 1 that he has been for his entire Astros career.

Altuve’s leadoff double led to a three-run first inning, and he ended up going 3 for 4. The Astros have some issues at the bottom of their order, and Altuve’s early struggles added to those issues. But if he’s back to being the Altuve he’s been all year, the Astros should be able to take advantage against a Phillies pitching staff that isn’t ideally aligned right now.

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2) How much can Noah Syndergaard give the Phillies?
There was some debate that the Phillies should consider an opening strategy in Game 3, trying to take out the Astros’ big hitters before letting Syndergaard attack the bottom of the order for a couple of innings. That wasn’t the way manager Rob Thomson went with it, though, instead planning to send Syndergaard to start his first World Series game since Game 3 of the 2015 World Series, when he earned a win for the Mets over the Royals. That game has another key parallel to it as it will feature a passionate fanbase who will be attending their first World Series home game in a long time. (See No. 5.)

Syndergaard is obviously a very different pitcher now than he was back then, as he is now more of a pitch-to-contact sinker/slider guy as opposed to the overpowering force he was before Tommy John surgery that l ‘forced to miss almost all of 2020. and ’21 seasons. This will be his fourth appearance this postseason and his second start; he went three innings in the NLDS-clinching Game 4 against Atlanta, giving up just one run. This would really be the ideal scenario for Syndergaard and the Phillies in this game: three innings, one run, then hand it over to the bullpen. Thomson wouldn’t dare push him any further, would he? Can Syndergaard still go that far?

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3) Will David Hensley have a chance?
The Astros have a DH problem. Trey Mancini and Aledmys Díaz, the two former All-Stars who have been the DH most of this postseason, have not produced: They are a combined 1-for-34. Manager Dusty Baker tried to solve this problem by moving Yordan Alvarez back to DH in Game 2 with Díaz in left, but Alvarez’s defense performed well in left field, especially with the modest size of the outfield. the field in left field in both Houston. and Philadelphia; might as well put him out.

Is it maybe time for Baker to go with Hensley? The infielder is a 26-year-old rookie who batted .345 in 16 regular-season games but has had just two plate appearances this postseason. The first was a huge one: A full-count hit-by-pitch in the ninth inning of ALDS Game 1 against Seattle, the game in which Alvarez hit his famous walk-off homer. Hensley has shown an ability to get on base, which is more than Mancini or Díaz have shown at all. The Astros need to stretch their lineup a bit. Every World Series seems to have an unlikely hero; can it be Hensley?

4) When the moment Bryce Harper will have?
Going into this World Series, Harper looked like he was going to have his block of LeBron James in the moment of the NBA Finals: A probable all-time Hall of Famer, at his absolute peak, dominating in a way that we have to talk. decades. It seemed like every pitch you threw him was going to leave the park. Well, after a pair of singles in Game 1, Harper went 0-for-4 in Game 2, and scored just one run in this series and didn’t even have an extra-base hit. That’s obviously a very small sample size, but hey, that’s what the World Series is: A small sample size.

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The hope going into this Fall Classic was that Harper could carry this team, almost by himself, the way he was going. So far, the big Harper moment hasn’t happened, but all it takes is one big swing to get the Philly faithful going. Which brings us to…

5) How wild will that crowd be?
It’s the first World Series game in Philadelphia since 2009. It’s a Citizens Bank Park crowd that has carried this team all postseason. It’s Halloween. The crowd in Philly was everything you could hope for and more, and they were just getting warmed up. It could be that the Astros strike first and try to get that crowd out of it. Because if these lunatics get going, it’s going to be a three-hour maelstrom of noise and madness. Philadelphia fans have been waiting for this for a long time. Take care.

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