Phillies could use Suarez in 2 different roles if NLCS goes the distance

Phillies could use Suarez in 2 different roles if NLCS goes the distance originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Phillies are strategizing their pitching lineup for Game 5 of the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks. After using several relievers in their previous games, they are relying on ace Zack Wheeler to provide length on the mound. Wheeler has excelled in eight of his nine playoff starts, making him an ideal choice for this crucial game.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, Wheeler showcased his talent by retiring 15 consecutive Diamondbacks batters, striking out eight. Although Arizona managed to score against him in the sixth inning, it was not enough to overthrow the Phillies’ substantial lead. With Wheeler’s solid performance and the team’s strong finish, they secured the win.

To strengthen their bullpen for Game 5, the Phillies have Ranger Suarez available as a relief pitcher. Manager Rob Thomson confirmed his eligibility and expressed confidence in Suarez’s abilities. If Suarez performs in this role, he will still be in line to start a potential Game 7. This approach enables the Phillies to optimize his pitching contributions while ensuring he maintains his regular throw day routine between starts.

Suarez, a left-handed pitcher, has been a crucial contributor in the Phillies’ recent postseason campaigns. He has fulfilled various roles as a starter, setup man, and closer, exemplifying his versatility and impact on the team. Last year, he played a pivotal role in securing the final outs of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres.

Considering the Phillies’ recent bullpen usage, they must be cautious in their selection of relievers for Game 5. Craig Kimbrel, Orion Kerkering, Jose Alvarado, and Jeff Hoffman have all been utilized on back-to-back days, raising concerns about their availability and risk of injury. Manager Thomson acknowledged the importance of managing player workload and potential risks when determining the bullpen mix for this game.

The Phillies are relying on Wheeler’s performance to carry them deep into the game, ideally into the seventh inning. In the late stages of the game, the bullpen combinations may include Suarez, Seranthony Dominguez, Matt Strahm, and Gregory Soto. This selection aims to maximize the team’s pitching strength and ensure a strong finish.

The Diamondbacks have chosen Zac Gallen as their starting pitcher for Game 5. In the previous game, Gallen struggled against the Phillies, allowing five runs and three home runs in five innings. However, it is worth noting that he has performed better at home compared to on the road, with a significantly lower ERA. The Phillies anticipate a more challenging matchup against Gallen in this crucial game.


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