The Philadelphia Phillies will begin the National League Championship Series on Monday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both clubs are coming off impressive series wins against the top two teams in the National League. The Diamondbacks have an impressive, young offense and two top-tier starting pitchers, but the Phillies hold a few advantages of their own heading into the series.
One advantage is starting pitching depth. While both teams have only had to deploy three starting pitchers in their previous series, the Diamondbacks are short on depth behind Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt. The Phillies have options behind Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez. How will Rob Thomson stack his rotation against a talented Diamondbacks club?
Phillies- Diamondbacks NLCS schedule
Game 1: Monday, Oct. 16
Game 2: Tuesday, Oct. 17
Game 3: Thursday, Oct. 19
Game 4: Friday, Oct. 20
Game 5: Saturday, Oct. 21 (if necessary)
Game 6: Monday, Oct. 23 (if necessary)
Game 7: Tuesday, Oct. 24 (if necessary
RELATED: Get all the up-to-date information for the NLCS, including dates, times and broadcast details.
Game 1: Zack Wheeler
Thomson will turn to his ace to start the first game of the NLCS. Wheeler has been dominant in his first two postseason starts this year. He has thrown 13 innings, allowing just three earned runs, while striking out 18 batters and has a 0.69 WHIP. The Phillies' ace has limited baserunners and would give his team a great opportunity to jump out to an early series lead.
Game 2: Aaron Nola
Nola has been great this postseason. Despite some doubt after his below-average regular season performance, the Phillies' No. 2 starter has looked dialed in since the start of the playoffs. In 12 2/3 innings, Nola has struck out 12 opposing hitters and has allowed just two earned runs. He has also done a good job of keeping runners off base. The Phillies' 1-2 punch in the postseason is among the best of the remaining contending teams.
Game 3: Ranger Suárez
Like Wheeler and Nola, Suárez has been spectacular so far this postseason. In his two starts, the Phillies' left-hander stifled a powerful Atlanta Braves lineup. In 8 2/3 innings, Suárez allowed just one earned run. He was also the winning pitcher in Game 5 of the NLDS, in which the Phillies beat the Braves to advance to the NLCS.
Game 4: Taijuan Walker
Matt Gelb of The Athletic indicated that Thomson may use right-hander Taijuan Walker in Game 4. Since both he and left-hander Cristopher Sánchez have not pitched since the end of the regular season, they could both see time in the fourth game of the series. Since Walker has never pitched out of the bullpen, he would likely start, with Sánchez following in relief. Neither pitcher is likely to go through the order more than twice.
Game 5: Zack Wheeler (if necessary)
Game 5 would put Wheeler back on track to start with regular rest. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Thomson will go back to his ace should he need to.
Game 6: Aaron Nola (if necessary)
Should the series go six games, Thomson would likely turn to Nola again as it would be his turn in the rotation. This late in the series the Phillies could be facing a series-clinching start and Nola has performed well in those situations.
Game 7: Ranger Suárez (if necessary)
If the series goes the full seven games, the Phillies should turn to the ever-calm Suárez again. In a high-pressure, make-or-break game, the left-hander would be cool, calm, and collected on the mound as his heart rate never appears to exceed 100 bpm.
However the Phillies' rotation shakes out in the NLCS, the club has depth in Michael Lorenzen and Matt Strahm, who can both go multiple innings if necessary. Thomson also has a deep and effective bullpen that he's not afraid to use. The Phillies pitching should be a strength in this series.