7:05 PM EST – Line: Phillies -137, Over/Under: 9
Power figures to be on display tonight in the City of Brotherly Love, as the surging Arizona Diamondbacks battle the Philadelphia Phillies in the finale of a Three-Game Series from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While it certainly appears to be a long road towards getting back into the race for the Division, the Diamondbacks (35-32, T-2nd in NL West) are firmly entrenched in the thick of things for a Wild Card, tied with National League West rival, the Colorado Rockies, for Second in the Standings. Arizona has turned the heat up of late, winning seven of their last nine outings, including four straight leading into this Three-Game Series with the Phillies. It’s been a power surge for Torey Lovullo’s charges, who have scored Thirty-Five Runs over the past four contests, including a whopping Thirteen in the Series Opener. Then again, that shouldn’t come as a surprise for a team that has been among the most prolific from the Plate in 2019; the D-Backs rank First in the National League in Hits (617) and Runs Scored (355), Second in Doubles (137), Triples (17), and Slugging Percentage (.459), and Third in Home Runs (103), Stolen Bases (35), and Batting Average (.258). The Lineup is deep and balanced, featuring eight different players batting above .250, with six of that number reaching double-figures in Doubles, and four slugging their way to at least Eleven Home Runs. The duo of Ketel Marte (.274 BA, 73 H, 41 R, 13 2B, 16 HR, 46 RBI, 19 BB, 47 K) and Eduardo Escobar (.299 BA, 78 H, 44 R, 16 2B, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 22 BB, 62 K) have provided the most power, with the former on his way to earning his first All-Star selection, while the latter figures to be joining him in that event next month. Heading to the mound tonight for the Diamondbacks is Merrill Kelly (6-6, 4.12 ERA, 74.1 IP, 76 H, 34 ER, 11 HR, 25 BB, 58 K, 1.359 WHIP), who looks to build on the momentum built from winning consecutive Starts. The 30-Year Old Righthander is enjoying his first crack at the Majors, as Lovullo has designs on the Starter to further flesh out his Rotation, which has quietly become a strength for this team. Arizona ranks Fourth in the National League in Team ERA (4.07), Sixth in Runs Allowed (294), and Fifth in Strikeouts (601). Former Cy Young-winner, Zack Greinke (7-2, 2.87 ERA, 87.2 IP, 68 H, 28 ER, 11 HR, 14 BB, 82 K, 0.935 WHIP), and Robbie Ray (5-3, 3.54 ERA, 76.1 IP, 66 H, 30 ER, 7 HR, 37 BB, 101 K, 1.349 WHIP) have been stellar at the top of the Rotation, with the likes of Luke Weaver (4-3, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 55 H, 21 ER, 6 HR, 114 BB, 58 K, 1.107 WHIP) providing balance on the back end. Fitting somewhere in the middle is Kelly, who over his past Two Starts has allowed just Two Earned Runs on Nine Hits, with Thirteen Strikeouts in comparison to issuing a pair of Walks. Then again, there is a reason that this guy has toiled away in the Minor Leagues until now, and that’s been control, or in this case a lack thereof. The Rookie has been tagged for Eleven Home Runs in Thirteen Starts, and has authored the second-lowest Strikeout/Walk Ratio among the Starters (2.32). With that said, it appears that he is in fact figuring that part of his game out, which couldn’t come at a better time for the club, who have suffered instability in the Rotation with the aforementioned Weaver hitting the Injury List with a forearm injury.
Meanwhile, this a very important stretch for the Phillies (37-29, T-1st in NL East), who after concluding this Series with the Diamondbacks, will meet National League East rival, the Atlanta Braves, for a crucial set between two teams tied atop the Division. Much was expected of Philadelphia this season, as Management went out and invested heavily in a club, that showed significant growth under Gabe Kapler, in his first season on the Bench. Experience and star power were deemed necessary for this promising young group to take the next step, but even with the likes of the Bryce Harper (.251 BA, 62 H, 39 R, 20 2B, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 39 BB, 85 K), Jean Segura (.291 BA, 66 H, 41 R, 15 2B, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 14 BB, 30 K), and Andrew McCutchen (.256 BA, 56 H, 45 R, 12 2B, 10 HR, 29 BI, 43 BB, 55 K) coming to the City of Brotherly Love, the impact has been far from immediate. After inking a massive, 13-year, $330 Million contract in the Offseason, the former MVP has been slow to acclimate himself to his new surroundings, leading the Majors with Eighty-Five Strikeouts a year after pacing the league in Walks (130). Unfortunately, McCutchen’s inaugural campaign with the Phillies ended prematurely, with the five-time All-Star tearing his ACL last week. Segura on the other hand, has been simply steady, though if you’re looking to be impressed, then look no further than Rhys Hoskins (.271 BA, 64 H, 35 R, 13 2B, 14 HR, 46 RBI, 45 BB, 70 K), Kapler’s home-grown, young First Baseman, who has helped carry the load offensively, leading the team in On-Base Percentage (.392), Slugging Percentage (.521), OPS (.913), Home Runs (14), RBIs (46), and Walks (45). The 26-Year Old tagged his Fourteenth Homer in Monday Night’s 8-13 loss to the Diamondbacks, which featured a record THIRTEEN Home Runs. Heading to the mound tonight for Philadelphia will be Zach Elfin (6-5, 2.88 ERA, 72.0 IP, 68 H, 23 ER, 11 HR, 18 BB, 57 K, 1.194 WHIP), who is working his way back from a brief stint on the Injury List due to suffering tightness in his back. When we last saw the young Righthander, he earned his first Victory since early May, a quality performance in a 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Eflin lasted 6.1 Innings, yielding just one Earned Run on Four Hits, striking out six batters and walking four. The Phillies need someone from their young Rotation to step up and support the likes of veteran Jake Arrieta (5-5, 4.29 ERA, 79.2 IP, 82 H, 38 ER, 14 HR, 32 BB, 65 K, 1.431 WHIP) and ace, Aaron Nola (6-1 4.58 ERA, 76.2 IP, 80 H, 39 ER, 11 HR, 34 BB, 86 K, 1.487 WHIP), and this kid figures to be the likeliest candidate to do so; his ERA (2.88) and WHIP (1.194) are the lowest in the Rotation, and his solid Strikeout/Walk Ratio (3.17) suggests that he has the control to play a larger role moving forward.