The Diamondbacks’ offense is better than the Phillies (5.09 vs 4.36 runs per game). That advantage could be magnified by the Phillies pitching changes.
The Phillies’ rotation is in transition.
Spring training injuries resulted in relievers Bailey Falter and Matt Strahm joining the rotation. Recent changes are significant because it appears the Phillies now have a 4-man rotation:
- On 7 May Matt Strahm left the rotation to join the bullpen. The manager said something like he will be unavailable to start Sunday’s game (21 May).
- On 13 May Ranger Suarez (injured in spring training) returned to the rotation.
- On 15 May, Bailey Falter made a long relief appearance, seemingly having left the rotation. Then he was optioned to AAA.
- On 21 May, Taijuan Walker pitched on only 3 days rest.
- On 23 May, the second game of the series with the D-backs, it’s unclear whether the Phillies will have a starting pitcher. Will it be a bullpen game?
The Phillies’ bullpen is overworked.
In games through 20 May, the Phillies bullpen workload of 489.2 outs ranked as 14th highest in the Majors (about average). What is significant is that their 2907 pitches to get those outs ranked as the 9th highest in the Majors.
Looking at the current bullpen, the Phillies have two relief pitchers in the top 50 in most innings this season (either as starter or reliever) (Matt Strahm, and Connor Brogdon). They have two more in the top 100 (Andrew Vasquez and Gregory Soto).
The following shows this season’s pitches in games through 20 May for the current bullpens. Comparatively, this season the Phillies bullpen has thrown more pitches than the Diamondbacks bullpen:
While it’s great to get their bullpen quickly, it’s even better to have long at-bats with their bullpen.
The Wild Card Race.
This season is exciting! If it was over today, the Diamondbacks would be a wild-card team! I’ll never stop paying attention to the Diamondbacks as the top wild card contender in the NL. Details are in the following table (games through 21 May):
The Phillies won Saturday’s game, breaking a 5-game losing streak, which seems to have taken them out of contending with the Diamondbacks for a NL wild-card spot.
The Diamondbacks need to win this series with the Phillies to stay ahead of the Mets and Pirates and thereby remain the favorite to win a wild-card in the NL.
The Pitching Matchups
Monday 3:40 PM Arizona Time, Zach Wheeler (4.06 ERA, 2.42 FIP) vs Tommy Henry (5.00 ERA, 5.71 FIP).
In his latest 3 starts, Zach Wheeler struck out 20 while walking 2. His 10 to 1 ratio is impressive.
Tommy Henry has improved every season at every level, as Spencer O’Gara wrote in his 2022 player review. This season, his best improvement is less home runs (HR9 fell from 1.9 to 1.3).
The Phillies are favored (65%) to win this game per 538.com.
Tuesday 3:40 PM Arizona Time, TBA vs Ryne Nelson (5.48 ERA, 4.87 FIP).
The Phillies will either make this a bullpen game, call up a starter from the minors, or move Matt Strahm back to the rotation after two weeks in the bullpen. Dylan Covey may be the starter because on 20 May the Phillies claimed him. He has been starting games for the Dodgers’ AAA team.
In September of 2022 Ryne Nelson had two scoreless starts (Dodgers and Padres). This season, his only scoreless start was against the As.
Wednesday, 10:05 AM Arizona Time, Ranger Suarez (10.50 ERA, 2.63 FIP) vs Zac Gallen (2.95 ERA, 2.00 FIP).
Ranger Suarez is back from his spring training injury. In his latest start he allowed 4 earned runs in 2 innings. He needs to show he can stay in the game four innings.
In the fourth inning of Zac Gallen’s latest start, the Pirates batted around. He needs to show that kind of surprise is unlikley to happen again.
The Diamondbacks are very slightly favored (51%) to win this game per 538.com. My view is that the Diamondbacks are much more favored (about 75%) to win this game.