The NLCS is now deadlocked at two games apiece. The Arizona Diamondbacks inexplicably rallied for three runs in the eighth inning and were like thieves, stealing a win from the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night. In each of the two games played in Arizona, the D’backs have scored the winning runs in their final inning.
The Phillies once seemed unbeatable, but the bullpen has twice squandered leads in the desert air. Manager Rob Thompson is in line of second-guessing for his use of reliever Craig Kimbrel. That has to be annoying for Phillies fans. But for baseball nuts, a long, exciting series is welcome this October.
Series Schedule, TV Coverage of NLCS
- Game 1: Phillies 5, Diamondbacks 3
- Game 2: Phillies 10, Diamondbacks 0
- Game 3: Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 1
- Game 4: Diamondbacks 6, Phillies 4
- Game 5: Phillies at Diamondbacks, Oct. 21, 8:07 PM ET on TBS
- Game 6: Diamondbacks at Phillies, Oct. 23, 5:07 PM ET, on TBS
- Game 7:* Diamondbacks at Phillies, Oct. 24, 8:07 PM ET, on TBS
Odds on the Phillies to win the NLCS fell from -310 to -164, according to FanDuel. The odds on Arizona to win are +138.
Pitching Matchup for Game 5
Zack Wheeler (2.37 ERA, 26 K in 19 IP*) vs. Zac Gallen (4.96 ERA, 12 K in 16.1 IP*)
It’s the Battle of the Zack’s, Part II in Game 5. Or “Zac’s,” if you have a fixation on accuracy. This replay of Game 1 features Wheeler, the best postseason pitcher in baseball the last two seasons. The husky righthander is fearless, and he’s also unyielding at this time of year.
In his three postseason starts in 2023, Wheeler has posted a quality start each time. He has seven quality starts in nine career postseason outings. In seven of his postseason starts he’s allowed two earned runs or less. He’s also fanned at least a batter an inning in his last four postseason assignments.
However, despite Wheeler’s dominance in the playoffs, somehow the Phillies have managed to lose three of his last five postseason starts. That points back to the Phillies’ bullpen, which has had several hiccups. But, Wheeler can’t be expected to go 8-9 innings, so Game 5 will probably be decided by the bullpens, as most playoff games are.
If the Diamondbacks want to get to their second World Series, Gallen and Merrill Kelly will need to dominate the power-heavy Philadelphia lineup. In Game 1, Gallen was pounded early and often, allowing two home runs in the first inning, and one in the second. The right-hander must keep his team in Game 5, and he needs to chew up at least 15 outs to get the ball to the pen.
Game 5 Preview
Wheeler is a throwback. He’s making a place for himself as a PS ace in the mold of other great Phils, such as Cole Hamels, Curt Schilling, and Steve Carlton. Game 5 is Wheeler’s opportunity to create his magnum opus. It’ll be the only baseball game played on Saturday, and Wheeler can serve notice to the sports world that he’s a master of his craft. We think he will. And that’s why we pick the Phillies to win Game 5 and take a lead in the NLCS.
Game 5 Pick: We’ve correctly picked the winner of each of the four NLCS games. We were off on our Over/Under bet for Game 4, so let’s see if we can remedy that. Our best bet pick for Game 5 is Phillies To Win and the OVER of 8 Runs. The odds for this parlay are +245 from Caesars.
(Best Live Odds: )