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Series Preview #42: Diamondbacks @ Phillies

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Don’t Panic! But TBD is getting a series off...

A view of centerfield and the skyline of  Philly during a game at Citizens Bank Park  Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

After wrapping up a losing series in Pittsburgh, the Diamondbacks make the trek to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies in Citizen’s Bank Park. The Phillies just got done taking two out of three against the AL East leading Rays, but they themselves sit five games out of first place behind the Braves in the NL East. It wasn’t that long ago that the Diamondbacks swept this same Phillies team, so let’s see how they match up this time around!

Game 1: Zac Gallen (1-7, 1.33 WHIP, 93 ERA+) vs. Zach Eflin (4-7, 1.24 WHIP, 96 ERA+)

Gallen hasn’t had the best results this past month. He had an okay start against the Giants at the beginning, but was then roughed up by the Giants and Padres in back-to-back starts after that. However, he did have a very strong bounceback start against the Rockies, holding them scoreless for seven innings in Coors, before the bullpen blew the lead and handed him a no decision.

In the other corner for the Battle of the Zac(h)’s, we find Zach Eflin. This will be his first start since July 16th, following a long IL stint for tendonitis in his knee. The Phillies say that due to the long layoff and only having one rehab start, Eflin will be on a 50 pitch limit for the game, so expect to see a lot of faces jogging out of the home team’s bullpen for this one.

Game 2: Taylor Widener (2-1, 1.37 WHIP, 98 ERA+) vs. Aaron Nola (7-7, 1.12 WHIP, 92 ERA+)

Since coming back from the COVID protocols, Widener has continued to put up some of the best numbers in the rotation. He’s pitched twice, and thrown five innings of one run ball both times, including a start against these Phillies and one against the Rockies at home. Widener will be looking for a repeat performance, but at the same time, the Phillies will have that many more looks to figure him out.

Aaron Nola is coming off of a near complete game two-hitter against the Padres. Before that, however, were a couple of shorter starts with mixed results. This is something of a down year for Nola, but he is still a very good pitcher overall. The Diamondbacks have a tough challenge in this game against him.

Gam 3: Humberto Mejia (0-0, 3.60, 126 ERA+) vs. Kyle Gibson (9-5, 1.20 WHIP, 107 ERA+)

This probably would have been Luke Weaver’s triumphant return to the rotation, however, he is currently in the COVID protocols in AAA following close exposure during his rehab stint. Instead, Mejia will be making his second start for the Diamondbacks this season. This follows a successful season debut against Pittsburgh, which saw him go five innings, giving up two runs, two walks, and six hits.

Gibson faced the Diamondbacks in that recent series. He went six innings, gave up three runs, and was ultimately saddled with the loss. Since then, he faced the Padres and threw a sterling eight innings of one run baseball. The Diamondbacks hit him well last time, so I do think they’ll come out swinging against him this start as well.

Game 4: Madison Bumgarner (7-8, 1.12 WHIP, 102 ERA+) vs. Ranger Suarez (5-4, 1.02 WHIP, 275 ERA+)

Bumgarner put on a clinic against the Phillies two starts ago, but struggled, at least compared to his expected results, last time around against Pittsburg. Six innings of four run baseball isn’t terrible, but the Diamondbacks need more from him than that on any given night. They’ll be looking for a repeat of the eight inning, one run game that he had against Philly earlier this month.

The closer-turned-starter Ranger Suarez has had a great year, regardless of what inning he enters the game for. One bright spot for the Diamondbacks is that his far and away worst game of the year was his start against them two starts ago. Granted, worst is kind of relative, given that it was his only appearance with more than two runs given up, so... His last start 6.1 inning, one run outing against the Rays, so hopefully whatever the Diamondbacks figured out against him will translate.

Conclusion

The Diamondbacks have been playing better since the All Star Break. Not “wow this team could have made the playoffs after all” good, but not god awful either. I think they split this series, keeping on the respectable but not great track. If I had to guess, Widener and Bumgarner’s starts are probably their best chance, though Zac Gallen could easily help them win the series with a good start in game one.