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This has been such a back-and-forth series that Game 7 is too tough to call. The Phillies are a slightly better option because they’re the home team. But the Diamondbacks have responded well when their backs have been against the wall in this series. They also have plenty of momentum and confidence after winning Game 6.
Therefore, the best bet for Game 7 is to take under 8.5 total runs. This isn’t going to be a replay of Game 7 of the ALCS with an early offensive explosion. Four of the six games in this series have stayed under 8.5 total runs and the losing team has only scored more than one run twice in six games. Digging even further, seven of Arizona’s 11 playoff games have stayed under 8.5 runs while eight of Philadelphia’s 12 playoff games have had eight runs or less scored. While this isn’t a matchup of aces, both Brandon Pfaadt and Ranger Suarez have pitched well in this series and both teams will be quick to go to their bullpen, both of which are well-rested. That should limit any offense in Game 7 to eight runs or less.
For Arizona, Pfaadt has been a revelation in the postseason. He’s looked nothing like the rookie who posted a 5.72 ERA during the regular season. After a hiccup in the Wild Card Round, Pfaadt threw 4.1 scoreless innings against the Dodgers in the NLDS and 5.2 scoreless innings in Game 3 against the Phillies. That also came in a game that the D’Backs had to win. Across 10 innings of work in those two starts, Pfaadt has allowed four hits and no walks while striking out 11. All nine members of the Philadelphia lineup had exactly two at-bats against him in Game 3 and only two got hits off him.
The results may not be that much better in Game 7, allowing Pfaadt to give the Diamondbacks a few good innings. Arizona could also bring back starter Zac Gallen to serve as a bridge to the team’s late-game relievers, so if the Phillies can’t get going early, it could be another slow night offensively for them, similar to Game 6.
Of course, Suarez has arguably been even better than Pfaadt during the postseason. He threw 5.1 scoreless innings against the D’Backs in Game 3, yielding just three hits and one walk while striking out seven. The lefty has now thrown 14 innings during the playoffs, giving up just one run on seven hits. He also tossed seven scoreless innings when he faced the Diamondbacks in June.
To be fair, Ketel Marte, Geraldo Perdomo, and Christian Walker all have good numbers in their careers against Suarez. But key hitters like Corbin Carroll, Lourdes Gurriel, Tommy Pham, and Evan Longoria don’t. Overall, Suarez should be trusted to deliver another quality start for the Phillies. Plus, since they lost Game 6, the Phillies didn’t have to use their top bullpen arms like Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez. That should allow the Philadelphia bullpen to be at its best.
Obviously, if either starting pitcher has a meltdown, it changes the equation. But early runs have been somewhat scarce in this series. There’s also every reason to think that both Pfaadt and Suarez can continue to build on excellent postseasons. As long as that happens, Game 7 of the NLCS should be a tight, low-scoring affair that stays under 8.5 total runs.
Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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