The Philadelphia Phillies and their fans must be experiencing some kind of déjà vu to last year’s National League pennant run. And this time, the Arizona Diamondbacks team over whom they have a chance to take a 2-0 advantage is a lot less intimidating than the Padres squad they took down last fall. Yet another batch of home runs from seemingly perpetual playoff launching pads Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber propelled the Phillies to an easy 5-2 victory in the opener, aided by Zack Wheeler’s continued playoff dominance, needing just 81 pitches to breeze through six innings, only allowing two runs. First pitch is at 7:07 p.m. CT, with the TV broadcast being found on TBS.
The stats from this season don’t bear it out, but the pitching matchup would seem to be in the Phillies’
phfavor tonight, as they’ll send longtime stalwart Aaron Nola to the mound for his eighth career postseason start. Nola had just a 4.46 ERA over 193 2⁄3 summer innings, but he finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2021, and he was worth nearly 30 WAR between 2017-22. He has also been pitching very well as of late, ceding only two runs in 5 2⁄3 innings against Atlanta in the NLDS after tossing seven scoreless against Miami in the Wild Card.
Arizona looks to bounce back with Merrill Kelly, a late-blooming right-handed pitcher with a 3.33 ERA in 63 starts over the last two seasons. A 2010 draft pick of the Rays, he made his MLB debut at age 30 in 2019 after spending four years in Korea. He’s a bag-of-tricks junkballer, by modern standards. His fastball won’t do much more than kiss 94 or 95 mph, but he has six pitches, and he’s not afraid to use them. But, the Phillies punish mistakes as badly as any this side of Atlanta this year, so if he doesn’t have pristine location, Torey Lovullo might be forced to tap into the Arizona bullpen earlier than he’d like.
Here’s the lineup that Lovullo will go with against Nola, who allowed four earned runs in 6 2⁄3 innings against the Diamondbacks on June 15th:
Rob Thomson counters with the following, landscape-style:
We’ll be with you for the recap, so sit tight and enjoy some quality baseball! It’s been a rare enough sight for all of us this season.