The best team in the Phillies’ system both on the field and for prospects all season has been the Reading Fightin Phils. The rotation has gone from vaunted to fringy, to vaunted again. The team received a big boost this July as it was bolstered with trade acquisitions and the explosion of Andrew Knapp. Based on their prospect hype the Phils will likely be considered the heavy favorite in every series they play in. The EL Playoffs are back to back five game series.
Game 1 (@Binghamton): Zach Eflin vs Tyler Pill
Game 2 (@Binghamton): Jake Thompson vs Robert Gsellman
Game 3 (@Reading): Ben Lively vs Gabriel Ynoa
Game 4* (@Reading): TBD vs TBD
Game 5* (@Reading): TBD vs TBD
C: Andrew Knapp/Rene Garcia
1B: Brock Stassi
2B: Brodie Greene/Angelo Mora
SS: J.P. Crawford
3B: Harold Martinez
LF: Cameron Perkins
CF: Nick Williams
RF: Dylan Cozens
There aren’t many minor league lineups that can match the Williams-Crawford-Knapp-Stassi top of the lineup. Given that this is a NL v NL series there will be no DH which will leave Art Charles on the bench and leaving the Phils without Knapp for at least a game. Outside of the top 4, Dylan Cozens has been on a tear since being promoted to AA, Cam Perkins has struggled at time but provides some pop, and Harold Martinez has regained some prospect luster with a .292/.335/.400 season. It will be interesting to see what Reading does at second base. Brodie Greene has a light bat, but good on base skills to go with solid defense. Much like the other players promoted to Reading Angelo Mora has been on fire (.327/.411/.531) since his promotion. Mora’s defense is a bit behind Greene at second, he could also see time at third base this series as well. Defensively the Fightins are solid but unspectacular around the field outside of shortstop and first base where Crawford and Stassi are assets. In the outfield there is not a ton of range, but all three outfielders have plus arms which should keep the Mets from taking extra bases.
The Reading pitching has been up and down all season, and injuries have left them a bit thin on the back end. However, heading into the series the Phils will have two of the best pitching prospects in the system on the mound in games 1 and 2. Eflin has been tinkering with a curveball and has started to show he can get up to 97 with the fastball. Thompson has been on a tear since joining the Phillies in the Hamels trade and at his best will show a plus fastball and plus to plus plus slider. Both pitchers have been working more on development than winning, so it will be interesting if anything changes in the playoffs. Ben Lively is a serviceable 3rd starter in AA. If it gets to games 4 & 5, it will likely be Joely Rodriguez (allowed 8 runs in 2.1 innings vs Mets on September 2) and Ethan Martin (over last 10 Gs 28.1 IP 0.95 ERA), with Nick Pivetta out with an injury. The Pivetta injury hurts in that it does take an arm away from the bullpen. The Reading bullpen still has some interesting arms to use in late games. The best shutdown arm they have is Jimmy Cordero who throws really hard and has been unhittable over his last 10 games, he likely will be used to bridge the gap to the closer (or possibly to close if the starters can work deep) because he can go multiple innings. Tom Windle is their best left handed reliever, though he has struggled if left in too long. Edubray Ramos has a live fastball and wipeout slider, and Ryan O’Sullivan and Renier Roibal can effectively soak up innings if something goes wrong. The closer still seems to be Stephen Shackleford who was brilliant all year but is on a bad run right now.
Summing Up the Series:
On paper, Reading has the better lineup and the better pitching, and a whole lot better prospects. That being said, the Mets have a lot of minor league journeyman who have played a lot of baseball. The Phils need to win games 1 and 2 with Eflin and Thompson on the mound, because this series gets a lot dicier if it is Rodriguez or Martin in a deciding game (despite the fact that both have pitched well at times).