The Philadelphia Phillies are back in the NLCS and have a date with the Diamondbacks as they attempt to win the National League Pennant for a second consecutive season. To do so will be a challenge, as Arizona has gone through the postseason undefeated through the first two rounds.
The Diamondbacks swept the Brewers and Dodgers thanks in large part to some outstanding starting pitching. The Phillies will have their hands full, particularly in the first two games with Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly lined up to pitch at Citizens Bank Park.
Rob Thomson has a decision to make when deciding what the Phillies lineup should be to begin the NLCS. The likely scenario is he sticks with what has been working and does not make any changes. This makes sense as the Phillies have won five of six in the postseason thus far, and have shown that their offense can carry them on any given night. While keeping things as is wouldn't be a bad move, shaking things up a bit would also make a lot of sense.
Phillies ideal lineup for the NLCS has one minor change
1. Kyle Schwarber - DH
2. Trea Turner - SS
3. Bryce Harper - 1B
4. Nick Castellanos - RF
5. Bryson Stott - 2B
6. J.T. Realmuto - C
7. Alec Bohm - 3B
8. Brandon Marsh - LF
9. Johan Rojas - CF
This ideal Phillies lineup has just one tweak from what they've been doing. Nick Castellanos should move up from the seventh spot to where Alec Bohm has typically slotted in, behind Bryce Harper. The reason why is very simple. Nick Castellanos is on fire, while Alec Bohm has struggled.
Castellanos had a series to remember against the Braves, particularly in the two home games. He had three multi-hit games in the four-game series, recording seven hits in 15 at-bats overall. In the two home games, he had five hits in nine at-bats with four of the five hits leaving the ballpark. The only issue with the home runs Castellanos hit is that every single one was a solo shot. Any home run is great, but ones with runners on base are far more impactful.
Putting the Phillies' hottest hitter behind two other hot hitters, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper, gives them a chance to put up huge innings. There should never be a case where a player hits four home runs in two games and has just four RBI.
While Castellanos hasn't had many chances with runners on of late, Alec Bohm is the lucky man who has gotten to hit behind Harper. He's had some chances with men on base but had just one hit in five at-bats with runners in scoring position in the Atlanta series. The Braves even intentionally walked Harper to face Bohm in Game 4, something the Diamondbacks might be hesitant to do with Castellanos behind him.
Bohm had two hits in 13 at-bats overall against the Braves and has just four hits in 21 at-bats this postseason. Moving him down in the order in favor of the red-hot Castellanos makes sense. Sticking with what's working isn't the worst decision, but sometimes it's good to notice something not working and make the change before something goes wrong.