Phillies vs. Predictions Diamondbacks NLCS, pitching matchups and what you need to know | Koclukevi

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For the second straight season, the Braves and Dodgers went through the regular season circling each other as potential opponents in the National League Championship Series. For the second season in a row, the plans of a pair of rivals in the division were ruined. The Philadelphia Phillies — yes, for the second straight season — swept the Braves. The Arizona Diamondbacks — a club that won 16 fewer regular season games than the Dodgers — went to Los Angeles and swept their longtime rulers of the National League West.

The Wild Card antics have prompted another round of handwringing over the format of the expanded postseason. We can save that discourse for another day. The teams playing their best baseball made it to this year’s NLCS for a reason. The Phillies are loaded with stars and brimming with confidence. Citizens Bank Park may offer the best home field advantage in baseball. But the Diamondbacks likely won’t be shaking on that stage. Arizona plays aggressive baseball that often causes opponents to make mistakes.

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Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte and Christian Walker may lack the recognition of Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos, but the top half of Arizona’s lineup can cause problems for any pitching staff. Carroll hit 25 homers, 30 doubles and 10 triples as a rookie. Walker is one of baseball’s more underrated players. Marte hit .318 this October.

The challenge for the Diamondbacks will be finding enough pitchers to hang with the Phillies. Both teams will likely be able to use their top two starters — Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly for Arizona, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola for Philadelphia — in four games. But Philadelphia figures to have a significant advantage in these next three games. And while Arizona isn’t showing any signs of a shakeup, it’s a young club that has never advanced this far in the postseason. Of course, the Phillies made it all the way to the World Series last season. — Andy McCullough


Game times

Game 1: Diamondbacks at Phillies, Monday, October 16, 8:07 PM ET, TBS

game 2: Diamondbacks at Phillies, Tuesday, October 17, 8:07 PM ET, TBS

game 3: Phillies at Diamondbacks, Thursday, October 19, 5:07 PM ET, TBS

Game 4: Phillies at Diamondbacks, Friday, October 20, 8:07 PM ET, TBS

Game 5: Phillies at Diamondbacks, Saturday, October 21, 8:07 PM ET, TBS (If needed)

Game 6: Diamondbacks at Phillies, Monday, October 23, 5:07 PM ET*, TBS (If needed)

Game 7: Diamondbacks at Phillies, Tuesday, October 24, 8:07 PM ET, TBS (If needed)

* If the ALCS ends by Monday, October 23, NLCS Game 6 will move to 8:07 PM ET.


The story of the tape

Who has the advantage?

Teams R/G SP ERA RP ERA DRS

4.60 (14th)

4.67 (21st)

4.22 (18th)

46 (4th)

4.91 (8th)

4.30 (15th)

3.56 (6th)

-25 (25th)

Top Diamondbacks Artists

Player POS KEY STATISTICS WAR

Assembly

OF

25 HR, 54 SB, 134 OPS+

6.0

Rotation

RHP

3.47 ERA, 0.94 HR/9

5.2

Bullpen

RHP

2.48 ERA, 50.3 GB%

1.3

Fielding

C

20 DRS

1.7

Top Phillies Artists

Player POS KEY STATISTICS WAR

Assembly

1B

.293/.401/.499, .384 wOBA

3.3

Rotation

RHP

3.61 ERA, 26.9k. %

5.9

Bullpen

LHP

1.74 ERA, 37.2k. %

1.3

Fielding

CF

15 DRS, 4.2 UZR

1.3


Pitching matches

There are many different ways to evaluate the quality of a pitcher. It could be dizziness. If you look just what happened on the field and don’t even consider defense or parks or anything, Gallen and Kelly were the top five pitchers in the National League, and Wheeler and Nola were sixth and 2nd, respectively. But every ball in play is a team, so if you take them out of the equation and look only at “pitcher outages” as strikeouts, walks, pop-flies and homers, Wheeler was first and Nola was seventh, while Gallen was third and Kelly was 12th.

Merrill Kelly (pictured) and Zac Gallen give the Diamondbacks a strong 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

But this is a long seven-game streak, so while it can be called pretty even at the top, at some point the others will probably matter. Arizona’s Brandon Pfaadt has been better since then moved his position on the rubber, but he was already hovering around league average back then, and there isn’t much in the closet behind him. You’d have to give the depth advantage to the combination of Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez, regardless of how the Phillies use them.

The postseason surprise may be that the Diamondbacks’ bullpen was among the best units in October, but a longer streak will test their depth. Paul Sewald, Kevin Ginkel and Ryan Thompson were great. Every inning someone else relieves leaves the quality of the Phillies going seven deep with guys who can throw 96+ bad breaking balls and just held one of the best offenses of all time scoreless for four innings to win. Game 4 (and series).

Teams have won championships by slimming down to only their most trusted arms, so that’s definitely a model the Diamondbacks can follow. But a seven-game series will test the depth on some level, and the Phillies have better arms. Call it an advantage for the Phillies. — There’s Sarris


Why the Diamondbacks will win

The Diamondbacks started this postseason as heavy underdogs. But five games later, they look like perhaps the most dangerous team in the entire field. The offense, which was such a question mark, forced the Dodgers starting pitching to throw a total of just 4 2/3 innings during the three game series.

They crushed Clayton Kershaw for six runs while he recorded just one out. Then they took Lance Lynn deep four times in one frame. That’s not to mention their pitching — led by aces Gallen and Kelly. Each of them will make at least two appearances in the NLCS. Pfaadt threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in Wednesday’s win. Anything close to that in the next round and Arizona will have a strong chance to advance. They are seeking their first World Series in 22 years. It’s getting more realistic every day.

The Phillies will have a strong home field advantage. That has proven to be a postseason calling card in recent seasons. But at the end of the day, these are two fairly even teams. Philadelphia won the season series 4-3 and finished just six games ahead of Arizona in the standings. The hype surrounding the Phillies may be stronger than any team in the postseason, but there isn’t much between the lines to separate the two clubs.

The Diamondbacks could theoretically have Zac Gallen pitch three times in the series if they are comfortable with him taking three days rest. Even if he only pitches twice, he’ll match up well against a Phillies lineup loaded with hitters. And a kid from the Philly area gets a chance to play at home. He owned the team through five career starts, posting a 2.22 ERA.

At the end of the day, this match will be hard to predict. Both clubs play above the level as in the regular season. Everyone believed it would be Atlanta and Los Angeles, a heavyweight rematch in the 2021 Championship Series. Instead, two underdogs will battle for a spot in the World Series.

The Diamondbacks will be well rested. They will be confident. And they will play with the fact that they have nothing to lose. That’s a dangerous mix this time of year. — Sam Bloom

Why the Phillies will win

There were many reasons why the Phillies benefited from dispatching the Braves in four games — the obvious being avoiding a Game 5 in Atlanta. But like the Phillies a season ago in their run to the National League, their cleanup work allows them to set up pitching for another series. That means Wheeler and then Nola at home to start this NLCS. Arizona has also matched its pitching, and arguably in a five-game series, the difference between the two teams could be slim.

But in a seven-game format, the better roster has a greater advantage. And the Phillies have it. Their top 19 players — nine batters and 10 pitchers — are better than the Diamondbacks. And while Arizona poses a real threat because they are athletic, catch the baseball and ride a legitimate wave, the Phillies have the power.

Phillies relievers have thrown 119 fastballs 97 mph or faster this postseason. The Marlins and Braves went 5-for-30 at bats against Phillies relievers, which ended with a 97-plus fastball. All five hits were singles. The Phillies haven’t had to overuse any of their relievers. They have a bigger trust tree. Take Seranthony Domínguez, who didn’t see important spots for most of September. He faced presumptive NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. three times in the NLDS. Acuña retired all three times.

Carroll, Arizona’s young star, had a .922 OPS against righties and .721 against lefties in 2023. The Phillies have enough left-handed pitchers to ensure Carroll sees one at almost every plate after the sixth inning — if they choose. Carroll has only seen 19 fastballs at 96 mph or faster from the left-hander all season. The Phillies have thrown 63 such pitches in the postseason alone.

It will be tough matchups for the Phillies hitters, but it’s worth noting how they subdued the Braves without fully clicking. Kyle Schwarber, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott did not have productive streaks. Even if Castellanos or Turner fades in the NLCS, there should be someone else to carry the load.

It should be a fun series; The go-go Diamondbacks are the antithesis of the stellar Phillies. But the Phillies can point to much more upside in seven games. Matt Gelb


Diamondbacks required reading

The rise of the Diamondbacks bullpen, from white-knuckle drive to playoff mainstay

Diamondbacks soak in Cinderella run, dismantle Dodgers in NLDS sweep: ‘We’ve arrived’

How Jeff Banister’s Second Chance at Coaching Helped the Diamondbacks

At 38, Evan Longoria is having a “full circle moment” with the upstart Diamondbacks

‘He was a lifesaver’: How D-Backs’ Ryan Thompson saved his career after midseason release

Phillies must read

Trea Turner is making history as he plays a major role in the Phillies’ playoff run to cap off a season turnaround

Nick Castellanos and the Phillies are basking in the prospect after beating the Braves en route to the NLCS

Stop whining about the MLB playoff system. Phillies, Astros show how to achieve October success

Bryce Harper, October legend: Still meeting the moment and rising among the postseason greats

Aaron Nola Award: The Phillies’ durable righty is at his best when it matters most

(Top photo of Zac Gallen: Michael Reaves/Getty Images; Photo of Zack Wheeler: Dale Zanine/USA Today)

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