|Corbin Carroll - RF||Kyle Schwarber - DH|
|Ketel Marte - 2B||Trea Turner - SS|
|Tommy Pham - DH||Bryce Harper - 1B|
|Christian Walker - 1B||Alec Bohm - 3B|
|Gabriel Moreno - C||Bryson Stott - 2B|
|Lourdes Gurriel - LF||J.T. Realmuto - C|
|Alek Thomas - CF||Nick Castellanos - RF|
|Evan Longoria - 3B||Brandon Marsh - LF|
|Geraldo Perdomo - SS||Johan Rojas - CF|
|Merrill Kelly - RHP||Aaron Nola - RHP|
Well, I guess it was a BIT too much to expect we’d go through the entire post-season undefeated! But if the D-backs can come back and win behind Merrill Kelly this evening, then the series will be well and truly on. We certainly do not want a repeat of the start last night, where two of the first three Phillies hitters went deep off Zac Gallen, as the home team feasted on poorly-located fastballs. Still, it was a closer score than the first game of the 2007 NL Championship Series against Colorado. There, Arizona was at home, and scored first on an RBI double by Eric Byrnes, But just like last night, our ace (then Brandon Webb) wasn’t able to get it done, and the D-backs lost 5-1 to the Rockies.
There’s a case to be made that Kelly, rather than Gallen, was the team’s ace in the second half. His ERA of 3.38 was certainly better than Gallen’s 4.03 - that’s actually closer to Brandon Pfaadt’s 4.22 than Kelly. That said, a point of possible concern is that Kelly, like Gallen, has pitched better at home than on the road. Nobody seems to have mentioned that much. In the regular season, Gallen’s road ERA was 1.95 runs higher; Kelly isn’t quite at that level, but the gap of 1.48 runs is still significant. That may have been bloated by late outings against the Mets and Dodgers where Kelly got raked, allowing seven earned runs over five innings in each start.
Another day, another unchanged line-up. Outside of the starting nine, the only bench player to have received more than a single PA through the first six games is Jose Herrera. And that’s probably only because of Gabriel Moreno’s single-handed efforts at turning the 2023 playoffs into his own personal remake of Jackass. Emmanuel Rivera has appeared in four games, with Jace Peterson and Pavin Smith in two apiece - but each man has only managed a single plate-appearance. Jordan Lawlar entered one as a pinch-runner, but is yet to come to the dish in the postseason. Torey clearly intends to ride his nine horsemen until they fall dead, and with the off-days built in, and the drop-off to our bench, I can’t say I blame him.
Let’s see how tonight goes. Arizona managed only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position last night, but Nola should present a less overpowering challenge than Zack Wheeler. His ERA+ in the regular season was a mediocre 96; his FIP was better than his ERA, mostly due to Nola allowing more than an expected number of home-runs. He gave up 32 home-runs over 193.2 innings, which ranked him third in the league. So perhaps it will be time for the D-backs to play a little Home-run Derby against the opposing starter. It’s definitely an important game to win. Doing so would take home-field advantage, while defeat would send us back to Arizona in a 2-0 hole, facing a stiff uphill climb.