It's nail-biting time.
After losing Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in utterly discouraging fashion, 5-1, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies will turn to Ranger Suárez to get them started off on the right foot in Game 7.
If you're choosing someone to take the ball in the deciding game of the NLCS, Suárez is about as good a choice as you can make. The 28-year-old has been about as dependable as they come in his second postseason with the Phillies — especially for a third starter pitching in the shadows of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.
The left-hander started two games against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, pitching 8 2/3 innings and picking up the win in his series-clinching Game 4 outing. He only gave up one run on four hits, while striking out six over those two games.
But that was just a warm-up for his NLCS showing. Suárez had his best postseason outing in Game 3 against these Diamondbacks. He went 5 1/3, giving up only three hits and striking out seven while keeping the Diamondbacks off the scoresheet. Unfortunately, he was matched up against rookie Brandon Pfaadt, who pitched like a 10-year veteran in a game that the Phillies ended up losing 2-1.
Why is Ranger Suárez the perfect Game 7 starter?
So what makes Suárez the best option for a do-or-die, winner-take-all elimination game?
Phillies manager Rob Thomson summed it up succinctly in his postgame comments to the media.
"I don't think he'll be too nervous out there," Thomson said. "He's a cool customer, and he'll go out there and he'll pitch his game."
For his part, Suárez is ready to face the challenge.
"Tomorrow, it's like a World Series game," Suárez said through an interpreter. "You know, it's win or go home and we're gonna be ready. We're gonna give our 100%, we're excited about tomorrow."
The Phillies' Game 7 starter was honest when asked whether he had dreamt about this kind of scenario as a youngster: "Not when I was a kid, [when I] grew older I started thinking about it. And again, it's a very exciting opportunity, and I think it's going to be a great day."
Watching Suárez, he rarely appears rattled or flustered when on the mound. He exudes coolness and calmness. How does the southpaw stay so calm on the mound?
"I really think all the credit goes to my teammates," Suárez said. "My team overall gives me that confidence to stay calm because I trust them."
Let's just hope his teammates help him out with the bats tonight and give Suárez a chance to send the Phillies to Texas.