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Ain’t nobody got to spell it for me: Phillies vs. Diamondbacks series preview

The Phillies need more consistently strong outings from their starters if they want to keep winning

Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies need better outings from Ranger Suarez
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After a disastrous start to the series, the Phillies came back to win the final two games against the Cubs. Will that continue against the Diamondbacks? It mostly depends on the rotation.

The Phillies have had a slew of problems this year, clutch hitting and defense among them. But for the most part - and this certainly doesn’t make them unique across baseball - when they receive good starting pitching, they win games.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 27-20, Second place in National League West (1.5 games back)

The manager

Torey Lovullo is in his seventh season as manager which is somewhat amazing considering the Diamondbacks haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 and 2022 was their third straight losing season.

Lovullo’s longevity is probably partially due to his combative nature. Fans, and probably ownership will give a manager a lot more slack if he comes off as “fiery.”

The last time they met

The Phillies have had their share of issues in Arizona the past couple of years. (It feels like I could say this about a lot of places, doesn’t it?) When they visited in August 2022, the Diamondbacks demolished the Phillies’ pitching in the first two games of the series, scoring 13 and 12 runs respectively. The Phillies got a small measure of revenge by scoring 18 runs to salvage the finale.

What’s the deal with the Diamondbacks?

They’re off to a good start mostly thanks to an offense that ranks third in the NL in runs. Christian Walker is having a strong season, disappointing Phillies fans who had targeted him as a possible trade candidate to replace Rhys Hoskins.

They’re also getting strong seasons from Geraldo Perdomo and Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. I hadn’t heard of either of those guys before writing this, which either speaks to my lack of baseball knowledge or the lack of national media coverage received by the Diamondbacks (Or both).

The pitching staff has not been as good. Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly make up an impressive front of the rotation, but things get ugly quickly after their turns. Fortunately, the Phillies are only scheduled to face one of them (Gallen) this series.

That’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time

I was today years old when I learned that Evan Longoria is still in the major leagues. He doesn’t do much these days except hit the occasional home run, but he has hit five of those.

It’s the pitching, stupid

It isn’t coincidental that the Phillies’ last two starting pitchers delivered solid outings and the team won both games. Saturday’s 12-run outburst aside, the offense has had its share of issues, especially in clutch situations. But it can be mentally draining on the hitters to be trying to work out of a hole every night because the starters are giving up early runs.

Unfortunately, I can’t say with complete confidence that the starters won’t continue to struggle. Ranger Suarez has looked bad since his return from the Injured List, and none of the candidates for the fifth starter spot are very appealing. Recently acquired Dylan Covey might get his shot to fill that role on Tuesday night, but when your best option is a guy who has made one major league appearance since 2020, that says a lot about the size of the problem.

Smarty’s tournament of randomness

In a first round upset, the 12th seeded 1994 blue hats took out the 5th seed Applejack. That brings us to our final first round matchup:

#6 Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play

On August 23, 2009, the Phillies were leading the Mets 9-7 in the ninth inning, but with two runners aboard and nobody out, Brad Lidge appeared in danger of blowing another save. That’s when Eric Bruntlett stepped in:

#11 Grimace

He’s big, he’s purple, and unlike Thanos, he isn’t trying to wipe out half the population, he’s merely trying to help them enjoy some delicious McDonald’s food. It’s Ronald McDonald’s best pal Grimace.

Poll

Who should advance: Bruntlett’s triple play or Grimace?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    #6 Triple play
    (62 votes)
  • 11%
    #11 Grimace
    (8 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now

Trivia

Last series’ answer: J.T. Realmuto was the player whose three-run homer was for naught against the Giants. MDog13 was first with the correct answer.

This series’ question: Since the start of the 2012 season, what pitcher has the most strikeouts at Arizona’s Chase Field in a Phillies uniform?

Non-Phillies thought

WARNING: Contains mild spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

GOTG 3 is a top five MCU movie and the best since Avengers: Infinity War. Threequels can often be hit or miss, but this one properly straddled the line between delivering what the audience expected and not being repetitive.

James Gunn clearly knows these characters (or at least what the characters have become. I’m still not sure why Drax went from a hyper-literal stoic figure bent on revenge to a guffawing idiot) and both the villains and heroes had clear motivation for what they did. Plus, the hallway scene is one of the best - if not the best - action scenes they’ve ever done.

I love that little raccoon! He’s my favorite MCU character.

Closing thought

Based on their recent history, it seems like a lock that they’ll win the first two games of this upcoming series as well, with Wednesday’s “getaway” game being more in doubt.

Gamethread 3/2: Twins at Phillies

Rise and Phight: 3/2/2024

Spring Training Stuff Part 3