PHILADELPHIA — Game 3 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros was postponed Monday by a forecast of rain throughout the evening. It will now be played Tuesday with Game 4 set for Wednesday and Game 5 on Thursday.
Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played on Saturday and Sunday in Houston with Friday serving as an off day. Originally, Thursday was supposed to be a travel day, but MLB pushed Games 6 and 7 back a day to allow for travel now on Friday.
“It’s always a tough call when the current weather might be playable, because you’re relying on a forecast,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in announcing the postponement. “We waited long enough that we could see what’s coming. We had three, actually four different weather people looking at it, everybody was consistent about this second wave of rain.”
The announcement came about an hour before first pitch Monday and after the Phillies took partial batting practice. Astros pitchers were throwing in the outfield moments before the tarp came on the field and the rain started up.
“I think it’s harder to wait around and then turn it off,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Because the waiting around to play, I found that sometimes you end up more tired and burn up energy not knowing when and if you’re going to play. So now we know we’re not playing. So now we just treat it as an off day.”
The postponement could benefit both teams, especially the Phillies, who will skip righty Noah Syndergaard in favor of lefty Ranger Suarez for Game 3. Aaron Nola will start Game 4, while Syndergaard will get the ball in Game 5, giving Zack Wheeler extra rest for Game 6. Wheeler struggled in his Game 2 start while experiencing a drop in velocity.
“He’s fine,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “It’s just late in the season, velocity’s dropped a little bit. He’s fatigued. I just feel like he needs more time.”
The moves set Suarez up for a Game 7 start, while righty Kyle Gibson could be used in Game 5 if Syndergaard is needed in relief before then. Game 5 comes before the off day on Friday.
“That’s part of it, too,” Thomson said. “So we can empty our bullpen, so to speak, and then we have a day off and everybody should be ready to go the next day.”
Meanwhile, the Astros will give Justin Verlander another day of rest, sticking with Lance McCullers Jr. for Game 3 and Cristian Javier for Game 4. Justin Verlander starts Game 5. Baker was asked what went into his pitching strategy.
“The equation was Javier’s been really good, No. 1,” he said. “And No. 2, we feel that that extra day off would not hurt Justin. It would probably be to his benefit.”
Game 5 on Thursday will be played up against another Philadelphia-Houston matchup as the undefeated Eagles will play the Texans in Houston. Manfred was asked if he considered playing a day game on Thursday to avoid the conflict.
“For the World Series, an important consideration for us is having the biggest audience we can possibly get,” Manfred said. “That’s a prime-time audience. Obviously we weren’t scheduled to do it, but given the rain, we felt it was the best window for us overall.”
It also means a potential Game 7 would go up against the NFL on Sunday night.
“We think we have a great product that fans want to see, and we’re going to put the games on when it makes sense to play the games and hope we get a good audience,” Manfred said.
The Phillies clinched the National League Championship Series with a win against San Diego on a rainy, gusty Sunday. They famously won the 2008 World Series with a Game 5 victory that took three days to complete because of heavy rain.