In preparation for the much-anticipated National League Championship Series, Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson did not mince words when addressing the formidable threat posed by the Arizona Diamondbacks, particularly their impressive running game.
“They run. And when you think they’re done running, they’re going to run some more,” Thomson asserted confidently during a press conference on Saturday, clearly acknowledging the Diamondbacks’ aggressive baserunning strategy.
With the first game of the NLCS scheduled to take place on Monday in Philadelphia, the Phillies have their sights set on containing the speedy rookie Corbin Carroll and the rest of the Diamondbacks’ roster to limit their opportunities on the bases.
Carroll, who contributed to 54 of the Diamondbacks’ 166 stolen bases during the regular season, played a pivotal role in their offense, which ranked second only to the Cincinnati Reds in stolen bases across the major leagues.
Despite his impressive numbers, the Phillies were able to stifle Carroll, allowing him just one stolen base in their seven encounters during the regular season.
Updated World Series odds:
Diamondbacks +450 pic.twitter.com/YLbkldigDe
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) October 13, 2023
Demonstrating their defensive prowess, Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto notably allowed only two stolen bases during the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies, seeded fourth, convincingly defeated the top-seeded Braves in four games, setting the stage for their showdown with the Diamondbacks.
The Phillies will rely on the pitching prowess of Zack Wheeler, their expected Game 5 starter, who has been a key component of their postseason success with a 1-0 record and an impressive 2.08 ERA.
With two extra days of rest, Wheeler is poised to bring his A-game to the mound on Monday, aiming to build on his previous postseason performances, including a stellar win against the Miami Marlins and a commendable no-decision against the Braves.
Notwithstanding his solid record against the Diamondbacks, Wheeler remains cautious, especially when facing formidable hitters like Carroll and Gabriel Moreno, who have been instrumental in the Diamondbacks’ playoff campaign with their stellar batting performances.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are banking on the consistent performance of right-hander Zac Gallen, who has demonstrated his mettle with a 2-0 record and a 3.18 ERA in the postseason. Despite an earlier encounter resulting in a no-decision against the Phillies, Gallen remains optimistic about his prospects heading into Game 1 of the NLCS.
Zac Gallen grew up in New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia.
He'll have a good amount of support as the Diamondbacks open the NLCS against the Phillies. pic.twitter.com/UHAhYo5t37
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) October 15, 2023
Looking ahead, Arizona general manager Mike Hazen expressed optimism about the team’s pitching rotation, emphasizing the significance of strong performances from both Gallen and Merrill Kelly, who is lined up to start Game 2.
Hazen also commended Brandon Pfaadt’s standout performance in Game 3 of the NLDS, underscoring the crucial role of consistent pitching in the Diamondbacks’ pursuit of victory in the upcoming series.
— The Philadelphia Orchestra (@philorch) October 13, 2023
However, the Diamondbacks are acutely aware of the challenge they face in the formidable Phillies lineup, powered by standout performances from Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos, who have been pivotal in propelling the Phillies to their current postseason success.
Who do you think will win the series???