For the second time in as many days, we have a Game 7 with a trip to the World Series on the line. The Arizona Diamondbacks handed the Philadelphia Phillies their first home loss of this postseason at the best possible time, leading Game 6 wire-to-wire to stave off elimination and reach the verge of one of the most unlikely pennant runs in modern baseball history. They’ll send rookie Brandon Pfaadt (3-9, 5.72 ERA) to the mound to try and finish the job on Tuesday night, while Philly turns to lefty Ranger Suarez (4-6, 4.18). First pitch of this do-or-die matchup from Citizens Bank Park is set for 8:07 p.m. ET.
The Phillies enter as -166 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Arizona at +140. The run total is set at 8.5.
Phillies vs. Diamondbacks NLCS Game 7 picks: Tuesday, Oct. 24
Out: 1B Rhys Hoskins (knee)
Out: RP Scott McGough (shoulder)
Brandon Pfaadt vs. Ranger Suarez
Entering this postseason, Pfaadt was arguably Arizona’s biggest question mark: The team’s top pitching prospect entering the year, he’d gotten off to a very rocky start to his big-league career, but a lack of viable starting options behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly thrust him into the postseason rotation anyway. Things didn’t go well in the Wild Card round, as the righty gave up seven hits and three runs over just 2.2 innings against the Brewers in a game the D-backs eventually won thanks to a heroic bullpen effort. Since then, though, we’ve seen the young righty blossom right before our eyes: He helped close out the Dodgers over 4.1 innings of two-hit ball in the NLDS, then did himself one better against the Phillies in Game 3, allowing just two hits while striking out nine over 5.2 frames. His fastball command, both with his four-seamer and sinker, has been worlds better than it was during the regular season, allowing his dynamite sweeper (.180 BA against, 33.7% whiff rate) to shine. There’s always a chance that the old Pfaadt shows up, but at this point, he’s getting harder to doubt.
The Phillies would obviously rather not be in this situation, but now that they’re here, you can bet that Suarez is the guy Rob Thomson wants taking the ball. The lefty hasn’t gotten the headlines of rotation-mates Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, but he’s been among the heroes of this postseason run so far — including five innings of one-run ball in a critical Game 4 against the Braves to help Philly move on to the NLCS. He was also great in Game 3 of this series, and he’s now allowed just three earned runs over 28.2 career innings in October. Suarez is as cool as they come — seriously, he treats starting in the playoffs as though it’s a Sunday stroll — and the Phils will need him to do it one more time tonight, especially given their offensive struggles recently.
I know all about Philly’s offensive track record at Citizens Bank Park in October, but the reality is that this lineup is slumping badly right now, and I’ll be siding with two starting pitchers who are throwing very, very well right now. We’ve only cleared this total in two of six games in this series, and unless Pfaadt or Suarez suddenly turn into a pumpkin — or one of these offenses breaks out unexpectedly — we should be in for another tight, low-scoring affair.
Pick: Under 8.5
I do think the Phillies deserve to be favored in this game. With this much juice on them, though, how can you not take Arizona? -166 simply doesn’t give you a lot of reward for the risk you’d be taking on with Philly: We just saw them get handled in Game 6 last night, and this clearly isn’t the same team that romped through Games 1 and 2. This game is far closer to a coin flip than this line suggests, and the expected value is on the D-backs.
Pick: Diamondbacks +140