World Series 2022: John Smoltz, Ben Verlander predict Astros-Phillies

Ahead of Game 1 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros (8 p.m. ET on FOX Friday), Ben Verlander and co-host Alex Curry will sit down with FOX Sports MLB writer Deesha Thosar in the Thursday’s live preview episode “Flippin’ Bats” (9 p.m. ET).

[Astros’ Jeremy Peña Is Over The Carlos Correa Comparisons]

Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who was previously on the show with Verlander to talk about post-season pitching and the importance of a 1-0 lead, will join Verlander every day of the World Series on “Flippin’ Bats” .

“Flippin’ Bats” will air new episodes at 7:30 PM ET, 33 minutes before the first pitch of each game, as well as a postgame episode after each game of the World Series.

Smoltz spoke to FOX Sports about the biggest pitching questions surrounding the series.

Name a pitcher from each staff member who you think could be a surprising ‘difference maker’ to their team… someone who might not be obvious to regular fans?

John Smoltz: For the Astros, it would be rookie RHP Hunter Brown. He will be a great starter in the future. He has great things and can do so many things for Houston. For the Phillies, I’ll go the other way and go with a veteran. I think RHP Noah Syndergaard can be huge for Philadelphia, especially if he can deliver big innings for them. Game 4 will be the test. RHP Andrew Bellatti in the pen for Philly is another candidate, but he will need to have his slider a little better than in the previous series.

How do the pitching bars match with each other and with the opponent’s line-up?

The starting pitching in this series will be great to watch and hard to hit. The front three for each club are fantastic, with the Astros having more starter depth. But the front three for each club are a great match. Both pitchers face good power-hitting lineups, but the difference may be that the Astros hitters aren’t hitting quite as much. Both lineups feature a pair of slugging left-handed batters, with the Phillies having a little more power throughout their lineup.

Where are the strengths and weaknesses of each team’s bullpen? Which team would be in the best position to succeed if the series lasted seven games?

The bullpens have big pitchers at the end for both clubs, with the Phillies riding on three or four men, while the pen is deeper for the Astros. RHP Seranthony Dominguez and LHP Jose Alvarado are important to the Phillies, while Houston’s manager, Dusty Baker, can go to a lot of staff before going to his closer. Overall, the lead goes to the Astros. However, if Phillies starters can do their thing and throw six or seven innings, Houston’s lead is clearly diminished. Because of the depth, if the series is long, the Astros have more weapons to handle a seven-game series.

We also ask Verlander to answer three key questions that could decide the series:

The Astros have had a massive postseason from rookie Jeremy Peña. How impressed are you with the young shortstop, and do you expect him to keep it up in the World Series?

Peña is built for the pressures of the late season. He has been so impressive all year and continued to soar through the playoffs. I had him on my show earlier this year and could tell he was up for the challenge. No moment was too big for him and he still shows it every night in October.

The Phillies weren’t a great team in the regular season, but seem to have caught fire in the postseason. Is there some 2021 Braves magic for this team?

This Philadelphia team reminds me a lot of the 2019 Nationals. Many underestimated them because they came in as a wild card team, but actually they started the season slowly. The Phillies are the epitome of a powerful team. They have an MVP, two certified aces, Silver Sluggers everywhere you look, and a crowd that certainly gives them an impressive home advantage. Don’t be fooled by the records, this isn’t a David-Goliath matchup. These are two powerhouses who face each other as they play their best baseball.

Harper talks about historic homer

Harper talks about historic homer

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry summed up a wild NLCS Game 5 between the Padres and Phillies, and Bryce Harper’s massive home run to win it.

Both the Astros and Phillies have great lineups with many proven hitters. If you had to pick one slugger that stands out in particular in this series, who do you think it would be?

So many attacking stars are part of this World Series. For me, I look to Alex Bregman to stand out from the crowd. He’s proven to achieve the biggest moments and he’s been swinging the bat really well lately. Watch out for more big Bregman moments in the World Series

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The FOX Sports MLB crew recently laid out how these two powerhouses go head to head this series, what it takes to upset the Phillies over the Astros, as well as how a win would elevate the Astros dynasty.

Watch the live preview show of Thursday’s “Flippin Bats” World Series here.

Read more:

2022 MLB World Series: Jose Altuve among the best MVP bets, plus a long shot

Astros don’t have to be liked to win the World Series

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2022 MLB World Series: Phillies-Astros, by the numbers

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