PHILADELPHIA — Bailey Falter wasn’t in the Philadelphia Phillies’ rotation when the regular season began.
Fast forward to Saturday, and Falter will have a chance to help the Phillies move within one win of the World Series.
Instead of going with right-hander Noah Syndergaard, Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson opted to send the 25-year-old left-hander to the mound for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday against the San Diego Padres.
Falter will make his first career postseason appearance with the Phillies leading the best-of-seven series two games to one after beating the Padres 4-2 on Friday.
“I think he can probably give us three innings,” Thomson said. “That’s the plan.”
Falter, who went 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in the regular season, hasn’t pitched since Oct. 5 on the road against the Houston Astros. He tossed one scoreless inning in that game.
But that was 17 days ago.
“There’s always concern about rust,” Thomson said.
The Phillies don’t always play perfect baseball, but they find ways to win.
Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins each committed an error on Friday, and Segura was also picked off first base.
Segura ended up contributing a two-run single. Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the first with a homer, Alec Bohm contributed two hits and an RBI and rookie Bryson Stott had two doubles.
In Game 4, it could be others who elevate their level of play. That’s been the mantra for the Phillies all season.
“That’s playoff baseball. When you have two outs, hit, close, for me it’s huge,” Segura said. “It’s very important when you’ve got players that can handle the pressure with two outs with the game on the line and be able to come through. I mean, that’s the game I really love.”
The Padres will attempt to even the series by handing the ball to Mike Clevinger (7-7, 4.33 ERA regular season; 0-1, 13.50 postseason).
In Clevinger’s only appearance in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he gave up six hits and five runs, four earned, in 2 2/3 innings.
It’s unclear how long Clevinger will last in such a crucial playoff game against the Phillies.
“We’ll see how it goes, take it batter to batter,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said.
Clevinger remains confident he can help pull San Diego level in the NLCS.
“They’re a good team, pretty complete through and through,” Clevinger said. “They grind the same way we do. We’re going to keep grinding.”
The Padres had seven hits in Game 3 but finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base.
Jake Cronenworth had two hits and an RBI and Brandon Drury added two hits. San Diego’s two biggest stars — Juan Soto and Manny Machado — went a combined 1-for-7. Soto had one hit and Machado finished hitless in four at-bats.
In addition, two balls eluded Soto in the outfield.
“He was trying to be aggressive,” Melvin said. “Those are tough plays. 50-50s, both of them. In a scenario like this, he’s trying to get to the ball, make a big play, and get an out.”
Now it’s up to the Padres’ talented lineup to score runs and help take the pressure off the pitching staff.
“We need to continue to put pressure on them,” said Austin Nola, who has caught every inning for San Diego during the postseason. “That’s the key for every hitter.”
–Andy Jasner, Field Level Media