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The World Series is perfectly poised at 2-2
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League Championship Series preview

The National League Championship has thrown up an unlikely pairing and that means both will be trying to seize their opportunity. 

We take a look at who has qualified for the National League Championship series and who is favourite to make it to the World Series. 

National League Championship Series

What:Philadelphia Phillies versus San Diego Padres, Game one of seven
Where: Petco Park, San Diego, California
When:01:03 BST Wednesday 19th October
How to watch:  BT Sport
Odds: Philadelphia Phillies 11/10, San Diego Padres 10/13

Shocks Galore

Well no-one predicted this matchup in the NLCS, but after both franchises pulled off upsets to reach a battle for the NL Pennant, this is happening. 

The St Louis Cardinals won more regular games than the 87-win Phillies, Philadelphia swept them on the road. The Atlanta Braves won more than 14 games than the Phillies, Philadelphia beat them in four games in the Division series. 

The New York Mets won 12 more games than the 89-win Padres this season. San Diego then bettered the Mets in a three-game Wild Card series in New York. 

The Padres then turned the form book upside down and knocked out their Divisional rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had won 22 more games than them and were hotly tipped to win another World Series. 

The two teams had played 19 regular season games already with the Dodgers winning 14 of them. Still, this is the playoffs and the Padres upset all the odds and overcame one of the best teams in LA Franchise history to make the Championship series. 

This is the first trip to the NLCS for Philadelphia since 2010, and the first for the Padres since 1998, it's also the first LCS matchup between two clubs with fewer than 90 regular season wins. 

Speaking to the San Diego Padres' website, pitcher Joe Musgrove said: "They're another Wild Card team that's really caught fire late in the year.

"They're very similar to us right now. They're riding on energy, riding on that high, feeding off each other and the city. It's a good thing we start at home."

Zach Wheeler will pitch for the Phillies in Game one, while Yu Darvish will be on the mound for the Padres. Both pitchers were scheduled for Game Five of the Division series, but they were not required and so have an extra day's rest. 

Related MLB News

MLB: Division Series preview

MLB: Regular Season Team of the Year

Machado and Harper

Manny Machado and Bryce Harper helped the USA Under-18 team win gold in the Pan American Junior Championship and a little over a year later, they were picked in the same draft. 

Harper was a number one pick for the Washington Nationals, while Machado went to the Baltimore Orioles. In 2018, they were both linked inadvertently as they were free agents and went to their respective clubs now on multi-million deals. Harper went to the Phillies, while Machado was picked up by the Padres having been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers by the Orioles.

Now they link up again, against each other. Speaking to the official Padres' website, team manager Bob Melvin said "They're the two premier players that both teams revolve around.

"I think the impact that Harper's had there is similar to the impact that Manny has had here."

Hopefully these two can live up to the hype

For Harper also, he's back at the ground where he broke his thumb earlier in the season which kept him out for a couple of months. 

He was hit by a Blake Snell fastball, who immediately apologised. Harper was angry and verbally lashed out at Snell, but he himself apologised because deep down he knew Snell had not meant it. 

However, without Harper the Phillies rallied and managed to reach the Wild Card spot and be where they are today. 

They didn't even trade a player for the injured Harper, even though he felt he could be out for the season. The management kept the same line-up and the players took up the slack and made sure that a bat like Harper's wasn't missed too much. 

Speaking to the official Phillies' website, Harper said: "Anytime you get hit or break a bone or anything like that, those doubts creep into your mind, you might not come back this year.

"The team reacted great, right? And I got news that I'd be back in six to eight weeks and I'd be ready to go in September and the postseason."

Harper is hitting .435 (10-for-23) with three home runs, three doubles, six RBIs and a 1.437 OPS this postseason. Meanwhile, Manny Machado went 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run and a 1.114 OPS in the Padres' win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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