Will they stop Altuve? Will Harper blow up? 5 stories to follow from J3

Not many thought a World Series sweep would be in sight — though the Phillies are on fire, not that way — but the action of Game 2 on Saturday ensured this Fall Classic will go at least five games … and some will they would dare to say that they would even play more. The Astros’ 5-2 win in Game 2 brings Philadelphia into a tied series, with plenty of question marks still to be resolved.

Here’s a look at the biggest stories heading into Game 3, which was postponed until Tuesday due to bad weather:

1) Can the Phillies contain a rising Jose Altuve?

Because the Astros clinched the AL West very early, some failed to notice the Venezuelan’s fantastic year (his 160 OPS+ equaled his personal best, which he achieved when he won the Young Circuit MVP Award in 2017). ). But his start to the playoffs was one of his most disappointing: Before a fifth-inning double in ALCS Game 2, he was 0-for-25 in the postseason. However, since that double, he is 6-for-15 and in Game 2 of the World Series he was the spark he always has been during his career in Houston.

Altuve started the game with a double, which resulted in a three-round rally in the first inning, and the second baseman went 3-for-4. The Astros have some problems low down in their lineup, and Altuve’s slow start had made that situation worse. But if he keeps up his pace, being the Altuve he’s shown all season, the Houston team could take advantage of his opportunity against a Philly pitching that isn’t lined up right now.

2) How much can Noah Syndergaard give the Phillies?

There were some who suggested that Philadelphia should employ the strategy of a opener in Game 3, trying to retire the Astros’ best hitters early in the game before turning to Syndergaard to attack the bottom of the lineup for a few innings. That was not the alternative Phillies manager Rob Thomson took and instead sent Syndergaard as the starter for his first World Series appearance since Game 3 of the 2015 version, when he scored the victory pitching for the Mets against the Royals.

Syndergaard is obviously a different pitcher now than he was that year, now throwing to make contact with a sinker and slider instead of going full force like he did before Tommy John surgery forced him to miss most of 2020 and 2021. .

The ideal situation for Syndergaard and Philadelphia on Monday: Three innings and one run allowed before leaving the game in the hands of the bullpen. Could it be that Thomson would dare to let him throw more? Will Syndergaard make it to the third inning?

3) Will David Hensley have a chance?

The Astros have a problem at designated hitter. Trey Mancini and Cuban Aledmys Díaz have not shown as much production: In total they are 34-1. Manager Dusty Baker tried to find a solution by including fellow Cuban Yordan Álvarez again at DH in Game 2, with Díaz patrolling left field, but with Álvarez showing good defense at that position, especially with the modest dimensions in the left field. gardens in both Houston and Philadelphia; the gunboat would remain there.

Is it time for Baker to go to David Hensley? The rookie hit .345 in 16 regular-season games, but has had two plate appearances this postseason. However, Hensley has shown an on-base ability that is more than Mancini and Diaz have shown thus far. Houston needs to expand its lineup a bit. Each Fall Classic features a hero few anticipate, will Hensley be next?

4) When will Bryce Harper’s time come?

Heading into this series, Harper seemed to be headed for an iconic moment in the prime of his career and dominating in a way many would remember for decades. But after a few singles in Game 1, Harper is 0-for-4 in Game 2, scoring just one run and not hitting any extra-base hits yet. It’s obviously a small sample, but that’s exactly what a World Series is: A small sample.

The way he had been playing, the hopes of some were that Harper would shoulder the entire team. For now, Harper’s big moment hasn’t happened, but it only takes one swing to turn on the Philadelphia crowd. Which brings us to…

5) How will the environment be now?

This is the first World Series game in Philadelphia since 2009. It is a fanatic that has energized the team throughout the postseason. It’s also Halloween. The viewers have seen as many anticipated and could even reach another level. It would be sorely needed for the Astros to hit early to silence the crowd. Because if the energy of the fans reaches a higher level, for three hours it will be a storm of noise and madness.

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Will they stop Altuve? Will Harper blow up? 5 stories to follow from J3