The NL pennant is there for the taking.
“It’s beautiful, right?” D-backs outfielder Tommy Pham said. “I’ve got a little chill. I’m pumped. That’s what it’s about.”
In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams that have won Game 6 to force a Game 7 have come out on top in that winner-take-all contest 34 of 60 times (57%). Teams playing in their home ballparks are only 62-64 all time in winner-take-all postseason games, including 30-28 in best-of-seven series.
Game 7, the first in Phillies franchise history and the first for the D-backs since the 2001 World Series, figures to feature all the elements of the first six games of this series, including plenty of power and a litany of difficult pitching decisions. Rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt will start for the D-backs, but even if he throws well, Pfaadt isn’t likely to stick around for long. Every Arizona pitcher outside of Merrill Kelly will be available to manager Torey Lovullo. That includes starter Zac Gallen, who started Games 1 and 5.
The Phillies will employ a similar plan, turning to left-hander Ranger Suárez for what’s likely to be a brief outing. One silver lining for Philadelphia in Game 6 was that manager Rob Thomson was able to avoid his highest-leverage relievers -- Jeff Hoffman, José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez; all three should be available in Game 7.
“We’re embracing it,” Phillies designated hitter Kyle Schwarber said. “We’re in this spot. We deserve to be in this spot. We have a chance to play our best game tomorrow and move on to the World Series.
“There’s no undermining anything; that’s a good team across the way. They have the same opportunity as us tomorrow. But it’s going to be fun to put everyone’s best efforts and best everything that we’ve got tomorrow. That’s all we’ve got is tomorrow.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Today's game is being televised in the U.S. on TBS. It's available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
D-backs: RHP Brandon Pfaadt
Following a rough first inning in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series against the Brewers, Pfaadt has been outstanding in two starts -- the clincher against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NL Division Series and NLCS Game 3 against the Phillies, when he twirled 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Despite Pfaadt’s success earlier in the series, look for Lovullo to be aggressive in going to his bullpen with the season on the line.
Phillies: LHP Ranger Suárez
Suárez isn’t as widely known as Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, but the Phillies feel great about their chances with him on the mound in Game 7. Suárez’s 0.94 ERA is the lowest in postseason history (minimum five starts), just ahead of legendary left-hander Sandy Koufax (0.95 ERA). Sure, Koufax pitched 57 postseason innings (all in the World Series), while Suárez has pitched only 28 2/3 frames, but good is good.
Suárez has been really, really good in the postseason.
What are the starting lineups?
D-backs: Lovullo likes to flip Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte in the lineup against left-handers, and his Game 7 lineup reflects that tweak. Alek Thomas will come off the bench, with Carroll shifting to center, Pham playing right, Longoria serving as the DH and Emmanuel Rivera starting at third base.
Phillies: Philadelphia didn't change a thing for Game 7. There has been some hand-wringing about Alec Bohm’s and Johan Rojas’ struggles this postseason, but Thomson has talked repeatedly about the ebbs and flows of hitting. In other words, just because somebody has struggled for a few games, it doesn’t mean he’s going to struggle. In the case of Rojas, the Phils just feel his defense in center field is too valuable.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
D-backs: Lovullo will be ultra aggressive in going to his bullpen behind Pfaadt. Every reliever is expected to be available, and it would not be a surprise to see Lovullo play matchups against the Phillies' left-handed hitters, making sure that he deploys one of the team’s three southpaws against them. Gallen, who last pitched on Saturday, will be available in relief as well.
Phillies: Everybody should be available in Game 7, but the longer Suárez pitches, the better. After back-to-back poor performances from right-handers Craig Kimbrel and Orion Kerkering in Games 3 and 4, Thomson said he planned to use them in lower-leverage situations in the short term. Both Kimbrel and Kerkering pitched one inning with a deficit in Game 6.
It reduces the number of arms Thomson can trust to probably four: left-handers Alvarado and Matt Strahm, and right-handers Hoffman and Domínguez. Game 5 starter Zack Wheeler will be available as well.
Left-hander Gregory Soto has appeared in only two games since Oct. 12. He has allowed five hits, two runs and two walks in just three innings in five appearances this postseason. Right-hander Michael Lorenzen pitched well in Game 6, but he might not be available.
Any injuries of note?
D-backs: Outfielder Jake McCarthy was removed from the roster just before Game 1 of the Wild Card Series after suffering a strained right oblique. He is not expected back.
Phillies: Rhys Hoskins is on the 60-day injured list following left ACL surgery in March. Hoskins is in Clearwater, Fla., where he’s continuing to rehab and face live pitching as part of Philadelphia's stay-ready group. If the Phillies advance to the World Series, there’s a chance that Hoskins could be added to the roster then.
Right-hander Dylan Covey is on the injured list with a lower-back injury.
Who’s hot, who’s not?
D-backs: Marte continues to swing a hot bat. Marte had two hits, including a triple, and two RBIs in Game 6 to extend his postseason hitting streak to 15 games. He is tied with Marquis Grissom for the longest hitting streak to open a postseason career. … The D-backs' running game also picked up in Game 6. After making one attempt to steal through the first five games of the NLCS, they stole four bases on Monday.
Phillies: Schwarber has hit five home runs in the NLCS, tying Chase Utley’s five homers in the 2009 World Series for the most homers in a postseason series in franchise history. … Harper hit a homer in Game 5. It was his second homer of the series and his fifth of the postseason. … Schwarber and Harper moved into a first-place tie with Jayson Werth for the most homers in Phils postseason history (11).