When Game One of the NLCS opens up tonight, the Arizona Diamondbacks will be sending their best pitcher, Zac Gallen, against a Phillies' lineup that can do little wrong right now and Zack Wheeler starting on the mound. To say that this will be the greatest test Arizona has faced so far this season is an understatement, but that is playoff baseball for you.
This being a tough matchup undersells the greater point, though. If the Diamondbacks can find a way to steal Game One, it would change the complexion of the series dramatically. Arizona would steal home field advantage from the Phillies, give them some wiggle room later in the series where there could be some pitching mismatches, and hopefully give the DBacks the confidence they need to make that final push for a World Series berth.
Fortunately for Arizona, the matchup isn't quite as rough as one might think even if most experts think that the Diamondbacks are heavy underdogs in the series overall.
Diamondbacks/Phillies Pitching Matchup - Game One of the NLCS
Zac Gallen looked like was in the driver's seat for the NL Cy Young award before he regressed a bit in the second half. However, one shouldn't ever complain about a guy posting a 3.47 ERA and striking out 220 batters in a season. Fortunately, Gallen has had a fair bit of success against the Phillies' hitters in his career. Alec Bohm, Nick Castellanos, and JT Realmuto have all struggled against him.
Trea Turner does have a homer off of Gallen, though the results other than that have been in Gallen's favor. The one guy that Gallen needs to be very careful against, though, is Bryce Harper who has an .801 OPS against Gallen and he is also on a warpath right now in the postseason.
Meanwhile, there are some Diamondbacks hitters that have played well against Wheeler. Tommy Pham in particular has killed Wheeler in the past as he has a 1.327 OPS against him in 15 plate appearances. Christian Walker and Ketel Marte also have been great against him albeit in a relatively small sample. Corbin Carroll doesn't have a lot of experience against Wheeler, but the results were not good for Corbin to say the least when he did face him.
Sit tight, Diamondbacks fans. The NLCS starts in a matter of hours and the result of Game One is going to tell us a lot about their chances.