Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 Things: 1 Run Won't Be Enough Against This Offense - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 Things: 1 Run Won't Be Enough Against This Offense

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    Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 Things: 1 Run Won't Be Enough Against This Offense
    CSNPhilly.com
    Phillies-Diamondbacks 5 things: 1 run won't be enough against this offense

    Phillies (22-43) vs. Diamondbacks (41-26)
    7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

    Sometimes one is enough.

    One run was sufficient for the Phillies to beat Chris Sale and the Red Sox on Thursday night but it certainly won't be enough this weekend against the dynamic offense of the Diamondbacks.

    Let's take a look at the matchup:

    1. Surprise out West
    The D-backs went all-in last season when they signed Zack Greinke to the highest annual salary ever for a pitcher - six years, $206.5 million for an AAV of $34.4 million.

    Greinke fell well short of expectations in Year 1 as the D-backs went 69-93. Things have gone more according to plan in 2017.

    Arizona is fifth in the majors this season in runs and slugging percentage. Four D-backs starters are hitting .296 or better and that doesn't even include standout centerfielder A.J. Pollock, who's been out a month with a groin injury.

    Perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt is the unquestioned offensive leader. He's hit .323/.448/.596 with 17 doubles, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 58 runs, 13 steals, 47 walks and 53 strikeouts. He's one of the most complete players in baseball and he's incredibly tough to pitch to. He's basically Joey Votto from the right side.

    Third baseman Jake Lamb has equaled Goldschmidt in run production, hitting .279 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs. 

    However, both players have been much, much better at Chase Field, the D-backs' hitter-friendly ballpark where the ball flies and the batter's eye provides perhaps the most comfortable at-bats in the majors.

    Still, Arizona's lineup is deeper than Goldschmidt and Lamb. David Peralta is a .314 hitter, and Chris Owings and Brandon Drury have had solid seasons, hitting close to .300 with doubles power and the occasional home run.

    This is a tough matchup for Aaron Nola.

    2. Nola back home
    Nola has made six of his eight starts this season on the road. On the recent road trip, he made his best start in a year by holding the Braves to one run on five hits over eight innings, then was cruising in St. Louis before a Dexter Fowler three-run homer uglied his line.

    On the season, Nola is 3-4 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He's struck out 41 and walked 14 in 45 innings.

    We've seen a different repertoire this season from Nola, who has more velocity and less movement on his fastball. 

    In 2016, he threw his two-seamer (which has wicked, sometimes unpredictable movement) 44 percent of the time and his four-seamer 14 percent.

    This season, he's thrown the four-seamer (29 percent) more than the sinker (25 percent).

    Nola's four-seam fastball has averaged 93 mph in 2017, two full miles per hour faster than his career average. We've seen many more 94s and 95s on the gun. We've also seen a somewhat straighter fastball, along with a bit less break on his curveball.

    The change in pitches and approach could be Nola's response to his surprising struggles last summer before his elbow injury occurred. Perhaps he realized that the league had caught up to his repertoire and needed to make a few changes.

    Nola faced the D-backs back in 2015 in his fifth major-league start, allowing four runs on nine hits over five innings. Goldschmidt went 2 for 2 with a triple and two RBIs. Lamb went 1 for 3 and drove in the other two runs. 

    3. Phils face another lefty
    In Patrick Corbin, the Phillies face a left-handed starting pitcher for the fourth straight game. (They'll face yet another on Sunday in Robbie Ray.)

    Corbin (5-6, 5.38) is nowhere near the test that Sale or David Price is. The Phillies have faced him twice, both in 2013, and they knocked him around, scoring 10 runs and reaching base 18 times in 11⅔ innings. 

    Corbin was very good that year, going 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA, but he missed all of 2014 and half of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He hasn't been the same guy since, posting a 5.22 ERA and 1.58 WHIP since 2016. 

    His fastball velocity has remained the same from his pre-Tommy John days at an average of 93 mph. But his control has been more erratic and his opponents have just teed off against his sinker, hitting .384 this season with nine doubles, two triples and a homer in 86 at-bats ending in that pitch.

    He's mostly a three-pitch pitcher with the fastball, sinker and slider, but he throws his changeups to right-handed hitters about 10 percent of the time.

    The only two Phillies to ever face Corbin are Howie Kendrick (6 for 16, four RBIs, four strikeouts) and Michael Saunders (1 for 3, double).

    4. Unprecedented losing
    The Phillies were 11-9 once. Entering last night, they had lost 35 of their last 45 games.

    How uncommon has this run of futility been? Get this: From Game 21 through Game 65 (last night), the Phillies had the worst record of any National League team since the 1939 St. Louis Browns. Seriously.

    May seem like an obscure stat since it includes only the stretch from Game 21-65, but it's notable because it hasn't been done in nearly 70 years! 

    Hat tip to CSN's Reuben Frank for finding this nugget.

    5. This and that
    • The Phillies last night became the last team in the majors to record a shutout.

    • One of the reasons last night's game ended so quickly (2:25) was the Phillies pounded the strike zone in a way they've seldom done this season. Nick Pivetta, Pat Neshek and Hector Neris combined to throw 97 strikes in 139 pitches (70 percent).

    • Daniel Nava threw catcher Sandy Leon out at the plate Thursday but also went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. It was a brutal matchup against Sale, but if Nava's offensive numbers start to drop, the Nick Williams call-up could occur soon.