Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson was quick with an answer when addressing the No. 1 threat posed by the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead of the National League Championship Series.
“They run,” Thomson said Saturday. “And when you think they’re done running, they’re going to run some more.”
The Phillies will look to keep speedy rookie Corbin Carroll and company off the bases on Monday when the teams play Game 1 of the NLCS in Philadelphia.
Carroll was responsible for 54 of the Diamondbacks’ 166 stolen bases during the regular season, with the latter total trailing only the Cincinnati Reds (190) for top honors in the major leagues. Carroll, however, was limited to just one stolen base as the Phillies won four of the seven games in the season series against the Diamondbacks.
Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto allowed just two stolen bases to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series. The fourth-seeded Phillies dismissed the top-seeded Braves in four games, with the expected Game 5 starter of that series, Zack Wheeler (1-0, 2.08 ERA postseason), now receiving two days of extra rest before taking the mound on Monday.
Wheeler, 33, allowed one run and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Miami Marlins in the wild-card round. He permitted three runs (two earned) and fanned 10 in 6 1/3 frames of a no-decision against Atlanta.
Wheeler is 6-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 11 career appearances (all starts) against Arizona after splitting a pair of decisions versus the Diamondbacks in the regular season. He surrendered four runs (three earned) on eight hits — including two homers — in six innings of a 6-3 setback on May 22 before permitting one run on four hits in six innings of a 15-3 rout on June 13.
Wheeler would be wise to pitch carefully to Carroll and Gabriel Moreno. Carroll is 7-for-17 with two homers, four RBIs and six runs during the playoffs, while Moreno has gone deep three times in five games for the fifth-seeded Diamondbacks.
Moreno is expected to be in the lineup on Monday after X-rays came back negative on his right hand. He was injured after Chris Taylor of the Dodgers fouled off a bunt attempt during Arizona’s 4-2 NLDS-clinching win over Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen (2-0, 3.18), Monday’s scheduled starter, has been consistent in his two starts in the postseason. He yielded two runs on five hits in each start to help Arizona record a sweep over both the Milwaukee Brewers (in the wild-card round) and Dodgers (in the NLDS).
Gallen also allowed two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Philadelphia on May 24. He is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in five career appearances (all starts) versus the Phillies.
Right-hander Merrill Kelly is in line to start Game 2. After that, well, it’s anyone’s guess.
“Zac and Merrill hopefully getting at least two starts in the next round will at least put us on a path,” Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said. “And then the way Brandon (Pfaadt) threw (in Game 3 of the NLDS) was unbelievable. If we get that from him, we’ll be a dangerous team.”
The Diamondbacks are facing a dangerous team, too. Trea Turner (12-for-24, two homers, three RBIs, five runs) and Nick Castellanos (9-for-23, four homers, five RBIs, six runs) fueled the Phillies to five wins in six games this postseason.