Lovullo on Game 7: 'We deserve this moment'

October 24th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time since Luis Gonzalez blooped a base hit into left field in the 2001 World Series, the Arizona Diamondbacks are headed to a Game 7 on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

After the D-backs' 5-1 win over the Phillies in Game 6 on Monday night, they will hand the ball to rookie in the win-or-go-home game.

“It would mean a lot,” Pfaadt said before Game 6. “I think being in the position to start Game 7, I think that would be huge. Especially as a rookie. I think I'm going to give it my all, give it all to the team and try to come out with a win [Tuesday].”

It’s been quite a ride for Pfaadt this year. He pitched the best of any of the competitors for the No. 5 spot in the rotation in Spring Training but was optioned to Triple-A Reno.

Pfaadt struggled in his first two stints in the big leagues this year, but each time he was optioned he came back better. Finally, pitching coach Brent Strom suggested moving from the far third-base side of the pitching rubber to the first-base side in July and that began Pfaadt’s improvement.

This will be the 25-year-old’s fourth start of the postseason and he’s gotten better every time out.

Pfaadt started Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series against the Brewers and allowed three runs over 2 2/3 innings. In Game 3 against the Dodgers in the NL Division Series, he tossed 4 1/3 shutout innings and in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Phillies he allowed two hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll played with Pfaadt in the Minor Leagues and has watched him progress this year.

“I have all the confidence in the world in him,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be fun to watch him.”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has had a short leash with Pfaadt in the postseason, not allowing him to face the order for a third time and that figures to be the case again in Game 7.

Everyone in the bullpen should be available and D-backs ace Zac Gallen, who started Game 5 on Saturday, told reporters after the game that he anticipated being available out of the bullpen if need be.

“We deserve this moment,” Lovullo said. “We're going to play Game 7, and for me Game 7, it's like all hands on deck, anything is possible. Game 7s are Game 7s for a reason. We earned the right to play in that game, and I'm proud of the guys for that. So I want them to enjoy it. They're excited, but at some point tonight, we're going to probably turn the page and set our sights on their starting pitcher, set our sights on what our job is, and make sure we get a good night's rest.”