2022 NLCS Preview

Story posted October 19, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Mac Young

Winter of 2019 was a wild time for baseball fans. Two of the game’s most polarizing and prolific stars were on the open market as free agents.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were not only seeking lucrative contracts that would pay them over $300 million over the course of more than a decade, but also a team where they would have a chance at their first World Series.

Machado struck first signing with the cross-town rival San Diego Padres after playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018.

Then came Harper, who signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia. The hype began for both teams as they had their star to help lead them to the World Series.

However, it was never going to be so easy. The last three years, the Padres have struggled mightily against the dreaded Dodgers.

In Machado’s first season, San Diego missed the playoffs. In the shortened 2020 season, the Padres reached the postseason only to be swept by L.A. in the NLDS.

2021 saw the Padres miss out on the postseason again.

This season, San Diego made it back in, but lost the NL West to the Dodgers by a stunning 22 games. When the teams matched up in the NLDS again, it was easy to pick the 111-win Dodgers.

However, the Padres slayed the dragon by outplaying L.A. in every aspect, especially pitching.

The Dodgers were caught off guard. After winning Game 1, they lost three straight to their rivals whom they had owned all season long.

All of a sudden, San Diego and Machado are one series away from a World Series berth.

The Phillies were starving to just get in the playoffs, as September collapses plagued them heavily.

Harper’s arrival fueled some fire into the club after a decade of demise, but when September came, it knocked the Philly bats quiet and pitching crumbled.

Philadelphia fans were ready for more of the same this September when the team lost five in a row, including being swept by the putrid Chicago Cubs.

With the Milwaukee Brewers hot on the Phillies’ tails, they were going to need to change the narrative to gain their first postseason berth in 11 years — and change it they did.

It would take a win in the final series of the season to get the Phillies back into the playoffs, so they sent their homegrown ace Aaron Nola out to go against an immensely strong Houston Astros lineup.

Nola proceeded to set down the first 20 batters he faced in a start that Philly fans will remember for a long time. The Fightin Phillies won 3-0 and got back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

The Phillies rode their hot hand and excited fans to upset series wins over the St. Louis Cardinals and the defending champion Atlanta Braves.

Now, after both signing huge contracts over three years ago with hopes of leading their city to a World Series, Harper and Machado finally meet in the postseason.

Both teams are built similarly with outstanding starting pitching at the top of the rotation, stellar bats and mediocre defense. It should be an exciting series that could easily go the distance.

It will be a battle with tons of emotion on either side as the mega free agents get ready to put their money where their mouth is in one of the most exciting NLCSes of recent memory.

Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email macyoung21@gmail.com.