Each game of this National League Championship Series, we’re going to take a microlevel look at an intriguing matchup of the day.
Today’s matchup: Yu Darvish against the weather
Game five is today in Philadelphia. The Northeast being the Northeast, the threat of rain during October playoff games is always present. From the weather reports that are around, this threat during today’s game is very real. There is no off day for the teams, so the game has to be played today, whenever there is a chance to play it.
This is probably going to affect San Diego more than the Phillies a tiny bit more. Each advantage a team can get during the playoffs is a good one, but this one could be crucial.
The reports call for the rain to arrive around game time. If it’s heavy enough, they’ll have no choice but to delay the game. The preference for both managers would be that they delay the start rather than begin the game and stop it early on. That might mean that both Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler, the scheduled starters, would have to be removed lest an injury occur. That would be something to look at later if the series gets extended, but today, it could be an issue.
In game four, Mike Clevinger was unable to get an out during the first inning, forcing Bob Melvin to go to the bullpen, summoning Nick Martinez first. Martinez is Melvin’s best long reliever and did his job, throwing three innings of no hit baseball, keeping the Padres ahead during that time. His 43 pitches might not seem like a lot, but in the playoffs, each pitch is a stressful pitch. One would have to think there isn’t much left in the tank, multiple innings more than likely out of the question. That leaves Melvin pretty short handed as far as long relievers go. His other option, Sean Manaea, was on the mound as well, but his ineffectiveness likely cost San Diego the game. Melvin would simply have to piece together each inning one at time.
Meanwhile, should Wheeler have to come out of the game, the Phillies are fortunate enough that they have someone who can help give innings should they be needed. I know we haven’t been too kind to Kyle Gibson of late, but he did look somewhat fresh the other day in San Diego and would be able to give the team some innings should it be required. It’s not the button Rob Thomson would probably want to push, but it is available should it be needed.
Clearly, we as fans would like the weather to be such that both Wheeler and Darvish are able to be on the mound for an entire outing. Their pitching duel was an impressive one to watch in game one and another, while it may fray our nerves, would be something. But if the weather forces one or both of them out of the game, the Phillies do have a slight advantage as far as picking up bulk innings is concerned. It might help propel them to a berth in the Fall Classic.