After a mechanical bull accident, Kyle Schwarber has complete confidence in the two Phillies horses

After a mechanical bull accident, Kyle Schwarber has complete confidence in the two Phillies horses

The Phillies will go with Aaron Nola as the starting pitcher in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night in Houston.

Zack Wheeler, who could have started Game 1 on regular rest, will start Game 2 on Saturday night.

Wheeler has been brilliant in the playoffs. In four starts, he pitched 25⅓ innings and allowed just 10 hits and five earned runs. He struck out 25 and walked just three.

Wheeler’s postseason would be even better if a play error by first baseman Rhys Hoskins in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against Atlanta was ruled an error. He was generously scored by Atlanta’s official scorer and Wheeler was eventually scored with three earned runs.

What does it matter now? The Phillies took care of the Braves in the NLDS. They took care of the St. Louis Cardinals before that and beat the San Diego Padres in the NL Championship Series. They are entering the World Series for the eighth time in franchise history and no one saw it coming, not after reaching the playoffs as the sixth and final seed in the NL, with 87 wins, 24 behind the top seeded Los Dodgers in Angeles.

“It’s kind of what we’ve always said in the regular season – if we get it right, anything can happen,” Kyle Schwarber said after the team’s practice at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday afternoon. The club then flew to Houston.

“I still believe it’s a 162-game season and you have to manage those games so you can get into the playoffs and now that we’re here it’s a brand new season. We’ve done well so far. “Now. period. Now we have one more record to manage and we can’t wait to get there.”

The Phillies’ Bryce Harper-led NLCS on Sunday against San Diego sparked a party in the streets of Philadelphia. Opposite Citizens Bank Park at Xfinity Live, a celebrating Schwarber rode a mechanical bull and the collective heart of the Phillies universe skipped a beat when it fell.

“I’ve done harder falls with horses,” Schwarber said. “My sister showed horses, so I grew up with them. No worries. We made sure the bull was going slow.”

Schwarber, who won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, then talked about more horses.

Nola and Wheeler.

“They’ve been our horses all year,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with whoever takes the ball in those first two games. Both have been so good.”

The Phillies are 3-0 in the first game of this postseason. Wheeler threw two, Ranger Suarez the other.

Manager Rob Thomson decided to swing Wheeler and Nola into the rotation because he wanted to give Wheeler an extra day off.

“I think the numbers speak to the fact that him and Nola – an extra day off, their numbers are much better, and any time we can give these guys an extra day, we do,” Thomson said.

Nola will start Game 1 against Justin Verlander after eight days off. Wheeler will start Game 2 with five days off, one more than usual. During the regular season, Wheeler made 10 starts on four days off. His ERA was 3.66 in those games. He made 11 starts on five days off. His ERA was 2.57.

Wheeler started the deciding NLCS Game 5 against San Diego on Sunday. He pitched six innings and allowed only two runs and three hits, one of which was a Juan Soto solo homer. He walked none and struck out eight. In the fourth inning of that game, he was hit in the right leg by a line drive from Josh Bell’s bat. He also suffered a speed drop in round six. He threw 87 pitches.

The leg ball — “It was sore but he’ll be fine for Game 2,” Thomson said — and the drop in speed were factors in the team’s decision to give Wheeler one more day between departures.

The Astros and Phillies saw each other earlier this month in the final regular season series of the season. The Phils were actually supposed to open the season in Houston, but the series was pushed back six months after a lockout delayed the start of the season. On October 3, Nola had one of the finest moments of his career when he opened Game 1 in Houston with 6⅔ perfect innings. The Phillies cruised to a 3-0 win to clinch their first playoff spot in a decade. Nola wiped champagne from his eyes and threw gems against St. Louis and Atlanta in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Nola’s winning streak ended in Game 2 of the NLCS in San Diego. He failed to protect a 4-0 early lead and was scored for seven hits, including two homers, and six runs over 4⅔ innings in an 8-5 loss. It was the last time the Phillies lost a game.

The Padres feasted on Nola’s fastball in Game 2 of the NLCS. Some of them were badly located. Others, well, it looked like the Padres knew what was coming. Thomson was concerned enough about this that his staff went on video to see if Nola tipped his pitches.

“We couldn’t find anything,” Thomson said. “And we’ve reviewed it. Whenever this kind of thing happens, we always review it and we always check to make sure everything is covered.”

The Astros won the World Series in 2017. It was later learned that they illegally stole signs during that season. The Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS in October. Thomson was the Yankees’ bench coach that season. Phillies reliever David Robertson was with the Yankees that season and was hit hard in that ALCS. After the cheating scheme was discovered, Robertson called it a “shame”.

Time heals and brings new opportunities.

“For me personally, there’s no extra motivation because of that to beat the Astros,” Thomson said. “I just want to win a World Series.”

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