What they’re saying: Phillies manager Rob Thomson makes history

Red October rolls on! The Phillies begin their National League Division Series matchup with the Braves in Atlanta at 1:07 p.m on Tuesday afternoon. Ahead of that, take stock of some notes and news about the Fightins to prepare for the huge playoff battle:

Topper Make History 📜

Jayson Stark | The Athletic

Rob Thomson has a brand new contract that will keep him as the Phils’ manager beyond 2022. The Philles’ turnaround under Thomson is legitimately historic:

Players have to produce. That goes for any sport. Individual players undoubtedly performed better following Joe Girardi’s firing once Thomson took over. Still, this unprecedented turnover has to speak to the culture that Thomson cultivates and the vibes he brings to the clubhouse. Aaron Nola pitching like an ace again, the bullpen steadying itself and J.T. Realmuto getting back to that BCIB form were all integral to the Phils’ playoff run, but give Thomson his flowers. The team could’ve rolled over and died in early June, but Thomson did not let that happen. His new contract is much deserved.

There have only been two Phillies managers in my lifetime to win a playoff series: Charlie Manuel and Rob Thomson. I couldn’t imagine telling myself that would be true back on June 3. 

What Beats Two Aces? 🃏

Justin Toscano | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Looking at what the Atlanta media is writing, Braves beat writer Justin Toscano outlined some keys for the Braves against the Phils this series. He knows Atlanta needs to be able to get by Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola:

The Phillies are heavily reliant on starting pitchers Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. The front end of their rotation is great, but it drops off after those two.

Often, playoff series are about which aces lead their teams to victory. This will most likely be the case here.

The Phillies need Wheeler and Nola to win them games. On the other hand, the Braves are probably deep enough to win a series if they don’t win a game started by Max Fried or Kyle Wright.

Whether it be Shohei Ohtani or Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer, the Braves have shown they can hammer elite pitching. Their offense versus Wheeler and Nola will be one of the series’ top storylines. [AJC]

Take a look at Wheeler and Nola’s respective numbers against Atlanta this season:

Stat  Wheeler  Nola 
Starts  3  5 
IP  20.0  34.1 
ERA  2.70  3.67 
Ks  25  41 
BB  1  7 

Wheeler dominated. Nola was just okay. If Nola can play closer to the level he’s been in his last two starts, the playoff berth-clincher in Houston last Monday and Game 2 in St. Louis on Saturday, the Phils will be able to hang tough. 

Will the Bats Wake Up? 😴

Scott Lauber | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Outside of their thrilling ninth-inning performance in Game 1, the Phillies’ offense didn’t produce at a level to match their hitters’ star power and big-money contracts in their series against the Cards. The Phils actually had three fewer hits than Cards did over that two-game span. They won’t be able to survive those types of cold streaks against a strong and experienced Braves team, writes the Inquirer’s Scott Lauber:

The Phillies survived the Cardinals even though Hoskins went 0-for-9 with three strikeouts, Nick Castellanos finished 0-for-7 with two whiffs, and J.T. Realmuto was 1-for-6.

In this series, those numbers would be lethal.

The Braves have an abundance of left-handed pitching, especially in the bullpen. In the latter half of a game, manager Brian Snitker can call upon A.J. Minter (2.06 ERA in the regular season), Dylan Lee (2.13), and Tyler Matzek (3.50).

Jean Segura and Bohm are capable of coming up with big hits from the right side. Segura had the go-ahead single in the Phillies’ improbable Game 1 comeback in St. Louis. But Hoskins, Castellanos, and Realmuto represent their right-handed power and the offsets to lefty sluggers Harper and Kyle Schwarber. The Phillies need at least one of them to get hot. [Inquirer]

I’ll put it simply: Another hitless, strikeout-filled series from someone like Rhys Hoskins or Nick Castellanos is going to cause them to incur the wrath of a Phillies fan base that has been starved of playoff baseball for far too long. 

Odds and Ends 🎰

DraftKings Sportsbook

On DraftKings SportsBook, the Phillies are the underdogs in this series at +155 while the Braves’ odds are at -185 to win it. Vegas and the books are certainly giving the Phils a shot here, especially coming against a 101-win Atlanta squad that won the World Series last year. 

For Tuesday’s Game 1, the Phillies’ are +165 as outright winners. Their run line is +1.5.

A fun prop bet on DK: Kyle Schwarber is +2200 to have the most home runs of any player on any team in the divisional round. That’s for all of baseball, not just this specific series. Those odds are tied for third with the Padres’ Manny Machado and behind the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez (+1100) and the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts (+1600). 

Looking at futures, DraftKings has the Phils +500 to win the National League, the longest odds of any NL team left standing. They have the sixth-best odds to win the World Series of any team remaining in either league:

 Team Odds 
Dodgers  +300 
Astros  +360 
Braves  +450 
Yankees  +475 
Padres  +1100 
Phillies  +1200
Mariners  +1400 
 Guardians +1900 

At the very least, those numbers look a lot better than they did in June.

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