December 2, 2023

Return of the aces — Phillies at Diamondbacks NLCS Game 5 preview


Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning in Game 1 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Let us flush Games 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series and focus on a must-win victory on Saturday night.

With both the Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks using eight pitchers in Game 4 on Friday, the two managers are relying on their aces to come through with lengthy performances on Saturday in Game 5.

Here is the Phillies’ starting lineup for Game 5:

  1. DH Kyle Schwarber
  2. SS Trea Turner
  3. 1B Bryce Harper
  4. 3B Alec Bohm
  5. 2B Bryson Stott
  6. J.T. Realmuto
  7. RF Nick Castellanos
  8. LF Brandon Marsh
  9. CF Johan Rojas

After some debate about whether the Phils would mix around their lineup, manager Rob Thomson will roll out the same lineup as has since Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.

In Game 1 of this series last Monday in Philadelphia, DBacks starter Zac Gallen allowed three runs in the first two innings, all on solo home runs. He lasted five innings, giving up eight hits while striking out four and walking two.

“That’s a few days ago,” Gallen said Friday when asked to reflect on his performance. “It’s on to whatever today is, Friday, getting ready for Game 5. It’s a short-term memory, whether it’s good or bad.”

In the postseason, Gallen beat the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers before losing at Philadelphia. He is 3-1 with a 2.22 in five career regular-season starts against the Phillies.

Here is the Diamondbacks’ starting lineup for Game 5:

  1. RF Corbin Carroll
  2. 2B Ketel Marte
  3. C Gabriel Moreno
  4. 1B Christian Walker
  5. DH Pavin Smith
  6. LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  7. CF Alek Thomas
  8. 3B Evan Longoria
  9. SS Geraldo Perdomo

Zack Wheeler will start the crucial Game 5 for the Phillies.

In Game 1 against Arizona, Wheeler went six strong innings, giving up only two runs on three hits while striking out eight, leading the Phillies to a 5-3 victory. In 11 career regular-season starts against the Diamondbacks, Wheeler is 6-3 with a 2.96 ERA. Through three games this postseason, the righty is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, including 26 strikeouts in 19 innings of work.

Wheeler will need to go deep in this one if the Phils want to win this game.

Also, Thomson did not rule Ranger Suarez to come out of the bullpen and relieve Wheeler if needed to save some bullpen arms as it seemed like everyone pitched Friday night. Suarez is currently lined up to pitch Game 7, if necessary.

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