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NLCS Preview #3: Diamondbacks @ Phillies

It all comes down to this.

A Phillies fan and a Diamondbacks fan stand side by side in the stands holding flags of their respective teams. Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Five games are in the books.

The Diamondbacks have lost three of them.

In a best of seven series, it’s simple math: it’s time to win or go home. That’s all there is to it. If you go in and sweep in Philly, you get to go to the World Series. Anything less, well, it’s been a great run.

Merrill Kelly and Aaron Nola will start Game 1 for the two teams. After significant home run trouble in his first start, Kelly will be looking to rebound against a team that has, offensively, not backed down from the Diamondbacks pitching staff at any point this series. The key for him here is going to be Kyle Schwarber. To have any chance, regardless of what happens in any other facet of the game, he and the rest of the Diamondbacks pitching have to contain him. Kelly gave up two home runs to him alone in Game 2. Beyond those two home runs, and the first inning shot from Turner, Kelly actually pitched decently, including sitting down seven in a row.

Nola, on the other hand, completely stymied the Diamondbacks. In six innings he only gave up three baserunners and struck out seven. In fact, much like the rest of the series, the only Diamondback to have any sort of success against him was Ketel Marte who picked up a single and a double.

Game 7, if necessary, is currently TBD. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Pfaadt vs. Suarez, but maybe the Phillies try something and get creative. Pfaadt is coming off the two greatest starts of his short career. Both against the Dodgers and against these Phillies in key games, he was able to come up firing and give the team exactly what they needed. If it makes it that far, it will be fascinating to see how he responds this time.

It’s all really going to come down to the offense though. Kelly can pitch as well as he wants, but if they keep going down without even a whimper at the plate like they have been, it won’t matter. Carroll and Walker especially have been MIA, as has any sort of Chaos that we’ve come to know and expect. With a good offensive showing, even a mediocre start from Kelly like they got last time would be enough to force Game 7.

And wouldn’t that be cool?