Game time: 6:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
Where to watch: Bally Sports Arizona, NBCSP, MLB Network
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Phillies -200, Diamondbacks +170
Season record (entering Friday)
Diamondbacks: 44-85 (Last place, NL West)
Phillies: 63-64 (2nd place, NL East)
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Diamondbacks - Phillies preview and analysis
Recent form (entering Friday)
Diamondbacks: 6-4 in last 10
Phillies: 2-8 in last 10, lost 3 straight
It’s moments like these that we should really give love to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
They’re not winning this year; it’s likely going to be a long final 33 games, but they’re going to put up a fight.
We should be applauding them for winning Thursday night, an 8-7 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies to begin a four-game series between the two. The teams will play Game 3 Saturday in Philadelphia.
Any time a team like Arizona beats a team like Philadelphia, it should be Diamondbacks Win Day, a rare proclamation by the city of Phoenix. Parades should be had in the streets; fans should be crying tears of joy like it’s 2001 all over again.
But we can’t do that, because we’re spending more time trying to understand why the Phillies have become the way they are over the past few weeks.
In the blink of an eye, the Phillies have fallen below .500 entering Friday, and are falling out of favor in the National League East as the days pass by. The idle Atlanta Braves are chilling with a 5.5-game lead on the Phillies even after losing the two-game set to the New York Yankees. It’s been that kind of year for this division.
Arizona was well on its way to a dominant victory had Philadelphia not tallied five runs in the bottom of the ninth. What’s more comical is the Phillies had only two hits in that frame, but still plated five runs. Brad Miller could struck out to end the game, ending all comeback hopes.
Since their eight-game winning streak at the beginning of August that pushed the Phillies to first place in the NL East over the New York Mets, Philadelphia has gone 4-11 in their last 15 and has now lost three straight games. Three of those losses included a sweep by these very same Diamondbacks back on Aug. 17-19.
What’s even more mind-boggling of the Phillies’ recent run is that the club has lost the last six starts from top-two pitchers Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. It’s a freefall that the 2007 Mets would be proud of.
Kyle Gibson is expected to be on the mound for first pitch for the Phillies on Saturday, following Nola on Friday. Gibson has gone 3-2 since coming over from the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline. He has a 3.77 ERA in those five starts, but is coming off eight strong innings Aug. 22 against the San Diego Padres.
Back to those lovable Diamondbacks; so young, so scrappy, so bad, but they’re willing to bite you at any given chance. Despite three errors, Arizona got enough from its offense on 15 hits. Nick Ahmed and Carson Kelly each connected on two-run home runs. Kelly’s was the biggest, given Philadelphia’s late comeback attempt, in the top of the eighth to cap off a 3-RBI day for the catcher.
Zac Gallen went only 5 IP (2 BB) for Arizona, but struck out six for his second win of the season. The only runs he allowed was on a two-run shot from Jean Segura in the fifth inning. He might have gone one more had he not allowed that one, but he still got a much-needed victory.
The D-Backs are expected to roll with young right-hander Humberto Mejia for his fifth ever MLB start. He gave up two earned runs in five frames in his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, generating a WHIP of 1.60.
Depending how Taylor Widener does in Friday’s start, it’s really weird to think the Diamondbacks have the Phillies’ number. Something has struck Philly since that winning streak, and it seems impossible to think that this will continue. I am curious about Mejia, however, and think that’s where the Phillies can exploit the young pitcher. Phillies win 7-3.
The Diamondbacks are 16-45 (-15.8 games on the money line) as an underdog of at least +150.
The Phillies are 4-1 (+1.8 units) as a home favorite between -175 to -250.
Diamondbacks: 2B Ketel Marte (hip, day-to-day), RF Kole Calhoun (hamstring, 10-day IL0
Phillies: 1B Rhys Hoskins (abdomen, out for season)
Players to watch
Diamondbacks: Veteran third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera has literally been hit-or-miss since Aug. 18. Entering Friday, he’s only had a hit in four of his last eight games. In those four games, he’s had two hits in each of them. His OPS has seen a drop from .730 to .716 in that time.
Phillies: Bryce Harper continues to show the world that he needs help. In his last 30 days, Harper has batted .298 with eight home runs and 19 RBI. He’s putting up video game numbers.
Nick Ahmed (R) SS
Ketel Marte (S) CF
Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 3B
Carson Kelly (R) C
Pavin Smith (L) RF
Christian Walker (R) 1B
Josh Rojas (L) LF
Drew Ellis (R) 2B
Humberto Mejia (R) P
Odubel Herrera (L) LF
Jean Segura (R) 2B
Bryce Harper (L) RF
J.T. Realmuto (R) C
Didi Gregorius (L) SS
Brad Miller (L) 1B
Ronald Torreyes (R) 3B
Travis Jankowski (L) CF
Kyle Gibson (R) P
Projected starting pitchers: Mejia (ARI) vs. Gibson (PHI)
Batting average: Josh Rojas (.278)
Hits: Pavin Smith (113)
Home runs: Josh Rojas (11)
RBI: David Peralta (52)
Stolen bases: Josh Rojas & Nick Ahmed (7)
Wins: Madison Bumgarner (7)
Saves: Joakim Soria (6)
ERA: Madison Bumgarner (4.17)
Batting average: Bryce Harper (.295)
Hits: Jean Segura (111)
Home runs: Rhys Hoskins (27)
RBI: Rhys Hoskins (71)
Stolen bases: Bryce Harper (12)
Wins: Zack Wheeler (10)
Saves: Hector Heris (12)
ERA: Zack Wheelers (2.90)
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