Breaking down Diamondbacks, Phillies strengths and weaknesses

The Arizona Diamondbacks experienced their first visit to Citizens Bank Park Sunday evening for a team workout as they prepare for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Here’s everything you need to know about this matchup, as the Diamondbacks aim to reach their first World Series since 2001:

Diamondbacks Ready for the Crowd Noise in Philadelphia

The Diamondbacks are well aware that they cannot replicate the unique environment they will face over the next two days at Citizens Bank Park. However, they are taking measures to combat it regardless. During a simulated game at Chase Field on Friday, they even played fake crowd noise, with manager Torey Lovullo instructing the sound system operators to increase the volume at one point. The goal was not only to create an uncomfortable atmosphere but also to work on communication through hand signals. “It was a little annoying,” said starter Zac Gallen, “but I think it actually benefited us.”

The simulated game also aimed to help the Diamondbacks combat the four-day layoff between games, which proved challenging for three of the four teams that received byes in the Division Series.

—Theo Mackie

Powerful Matchup Ahead

On paper, the Philadelphia Phillies seem to have the upper hand when it comes to power, with the third-highest number of home runs (220) in the league during the regular season, compared to the Diamondbacks’ 166 (which tied for tenth place). However, if the Diamondbacks continue swinging their bats the way they have in the postseason, the power gap might not be as significant as it appears. Both teams have hit 13 homers in the playoffs, with the Diamondbacks playing one fewer game. “When things click as an offense,” said Diamondbacks slugger Christian Walker, “it’s about protecting each other and knowing that the guy behind you can be dangerous. The opponent is forced to choose who they’re going to go after.”

Gallen acknowledged that the Phillies’ lineup stands out for its power, but he also emphasized their overall experience and ability to draw walks, presenting challenges for any pitcher.

—Nick Piecoro

Phillies Have a Deeper Rotation than the Diamondbacks

The Phillies have two excellent starters, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, leading their rotation. Wheeler had a 3.61 ERA this season, while Nola has a long history of being a front-line starter. However, the Diamondbacks can counter with their fantastic pitchers, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. The difference may lie in Games 3 and 4, where the Diamondbacks have some uncertainties. Rookie Brandon Pfaadt is scheduled for Game 3, but he has been inconsistent. As for Game 4, they might rely on Ryne Nelson, who has been struggling, or a bullpen game. On the other hand, the Phillies have Ranger Suárez and former Diamondback Taijuan Walker for Games 3 and 4, respectively.

—Theo Mackie

Contrasting Bullpen Styles

Among the Phillies’ top relievers for high-pressure situations in this series, only Matt Strahm has an average fastball velocity under 95 mph. The rest of their bullpen arms, including Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto, José Alvarado, and Seranthony Domínguez, throw fastballs averaging 96-99 mph. In comparison, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen has improved significantly recently, but their hardest-throwing reliever, Kevin Ginkel, averages 96 mph on his fastball.

Diamondbacks manager Lovullo acknowledges the challenge of facing such velocity and states that they are prepared, utilizing all the information they have on these pitchers to guide their strategy.

—Theo Mackie

Stealing Bases and Control

The Diamondbacks may not have the same personnel as earlier in the season when they were known for their aggressive baserunning. However, they still aim to steal bases and take extra bases whenever opportunities arise. It remains to be seen if they will have the same success against the Phillies, especially with catcher J.T. Realmuto, who possesses a strong throwing arm and quick exchange. Realmuto mentions that the Phillies have focused on controlling the running game late in the season. The Diamondbacks have stolen seven bases in the playoffs, while the Phillies have allowed only two stolen bases.

—Nick Piecoro

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: NLCS matchups: Breaking down DBacks, Phillies strengths and weaknesses


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