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Can the Phillies spoil the Astros’ perfect run?

<span>Photograph: Bob Levey/Getty Images</span>

Photograph: Bob Levey/Getty Images

Does the playoff format need tweaking?

Yes. We need to go back to the objectively correct playoff format: three division winners and one wild-card team from each league. Of course, I’m biased on this subject: how the playoffs operated when you first became a fan always feels right, even if there’s always an element of arbitrariness in play in every set-up. HF

It’s pointless to resist. I’ve never seen the point of spending 162 games separating the wheat from the chaff if you’re going to swing open the barn doors for more than eight teams come October, but modern concerns have prevailed and there’s no turning back. I’m just grateful we’re not up to a 16-team field (yet). BAG

No. Apologies to Dodgers and Braves fans for not being handed a title on their regular-season exploits, but the expanded format has made the baseball postseason far more intriguing. A major thanks to Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball for getting rid of the one-game playoffs. MJ

Yes. The 80-year-old grumpy guy in me says there’s too many teams in the playoffs. Once the inevitable MLB expansion comes, and we have 32 teams, they’ll probably let 16 teams into the postseason. Then they should just shrink the regular season to roughly 154 games. But that will make too much sense for MLB to do, so instead expected them to be playing in December. As for now, forcing division-winning teams like St Louis and Cleveland into the wild-card round is just plain unfair. Fix it. DL

What the Phillies need to do to win

The Phillies need to rely on their starting pitching to get deep into games and avoid having their thin bullpen exposed to this dangerous Astros lineup. Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola have a combined 2.32 ERA in almost 43 innings this postseason. If they can manage to go 4-0 in their projected four starts, well, that’s all Philadelphia need. HF

Philadelphia must win one or both of the opening two games with Nola and Wheeler on the mound. Houston’s pitching depth is their biggest advantage, so the Phillies can’t afford to waste their arguable edge at the top of the rotation because the drop-off that follows is steep. They’ll also need an answer if/when Houston pitches around Harper, whether it’s the off-form Nick Castellanos finding his stroke (preferable) or manager Rob Thompson moving him up in the lineup. Additionally, while Thomson has relied heavily on José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez to preserve leads in the late…

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