Phillies (23-48) at Diamondbacks (46-27)
9:40 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App
A week after being swept at home by the Diamondbacks, the Phillies head out to Arizona to begin a nine-game road trip. The first four games in Arizona for a rare weekend wraparound series that ends Monday.
Complete coverage of the Fightin' Phils and their MLB rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Let's take a look at the opener:
1. Hot as hell
This isn't the best time for the Phillies to be heading to Phoenix. This week has been among the hottest nationally in recorded history, topping out at 119 degrees in some places and reaching as high as 125 in others. The National Weather Service noted that temperatures reached 127 in the California desert on Tuesday.
It was so hot in Phoenix this week that flights have been canceled because planes can't take off.
It's already hard enough to pitch at Chase Field, which favors hitters to the extreme because of elevation, the best batter's eye in baseball and just overall small-ish dimensions. Luckily, it has a retractable roof which could be used to cancel out the heat this weekend.
2. Spot start for Leiter
Mark Leiter Jr. gets a spot start tonight in place of Jerad Eickhoff, who went on the 10-day DL Tuesday with an upper back strain.
Leiter made 12 appearances out of the Phillies' bullpen from April 28 through June 2, posting a 4.74 ERA. He had one really bad outing May 30 in Miami, but in his other 11 appearances had a 2.95 ERA.
The issue with Leiter was clearly his control. He walked 14 batters and struck out 12 in 19 innings, which mitigated the low number of hits (11) he allowed. And it's not like he missed the zone by a little. The league average rate of chasing pitches outside the strike zone is 29.5 percent. Leiter's rate was 17.2 percent, so a lot of those pitches weren't even competitive.
He threw 190 strikes and 144 balls in relief, about a 56-44 ratio.
The Phillies stretched Leiter back out when they sent him down to Triple A, giving him three starts. He struggled in the first two, allowing 10 runs in 7⅔ innings. But his start this past Sunday put him back on the Phils' radar - six shutout innings, two hits, no walks, six strikeouts.
Leiter hasn't thrown more than 74 pitches in any game this season so we're likely looking at between four and six innings from him tonight, depending on how efficient he can be against a top-tier offense.
3. The Chase Field effect
We're at the point now where there isn't much difference between Chase Field and Coors Field. Both are nightmares for pitchers and havens for hitters, especially those used to playing there.
Paul Goldschmidt has hit .387 with a .506 on-base percentage and .726 slugging percentage at home this season.
Second baseman Brandon Drury has hit .370 at home. Shortstop Chris Owings has hit .342. Rightfielder David Peralta has hit .339. Third baseman Jake Lamb has hit 10 of his 16 homers at Chase Field.
Altogether, the D-backs have hit .293 with an .886 OPS at home. Their opponents, either because they have inferior offenses or try too hard to hit for power in Arizona, have hit just .229 with a .694 OPS.
It's no surprise the Diamondbacks have baseball's best home record at 26-9. The Phillies, meanwhile, have the game's worst road record at 9-28.
4. Kendrick killing it
Howie Kendrick had Thursday off and the Phillies were able to win without their best, most consistent bat.
Kendrick has hit .350 in 30 games this season. That's the fourth-highest batting average in the majors among players with 130-plus plate appearances, behind only the Dodgers' Justin Turner (.387), the Brewers' Eric Sogard (.366) and the Mariners' Ben Gamel (.352).
Kendrick has reached base multiple times in 17 of the 30 games he's played. And it's not like these are cheap, bloop hits falling in. It's line drive after line drive after line drive. Kendrick's line drive rate is 26.1 percent, which is 11th-best in the NL and well ahead of guys like Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Giancarlo Stanton, Goldschmidt, Matt Kemp, Buster Posey, Corey Seager and many others. Granted, Kendrick has far fewer plate appearances.
As poorly as the Clay Buchholz and Michael Saunders acquisitions turned out is as well as the Kendrick trade has worked so far.
5. This and that
• The Phillies face D-backs lefty Patrick Corbin, who is 6-6 with a 5.19 ERA. He allowed four runs (two earned) to them in six innings in his last start.
• Freddy Galvis homered Thursday for the 21st time in the last 365 days. The only NL shortstop with more home runs over the last calendar year is Seager with 23.
• Maikel Franco grounded into his MLB-leading 14th double play Thursday afternoon. That's a career-high. He grounded into 13 double plays last season ... in 350 more plate appearances. He's on pace for 32 GIDPs.
• Pat Neshek had another scoreless appearance Thursday, his 30th in 31 tries. Combined with the two runs Dellin Betances allowed last night, Neshek now has the lowest ERA in the majors at 0.63. The question is: How often can he actually pitch?
• It looks like Luis Garcia is next in line to get the Phillies' save opportunities. He had that one disastrous outing in Atlanta but aside from that has a 1.65 ERA on the season. He's never looked better.
• Daniel Nava is 1 for his last 16 and 3 for his last 24. In 11 days, his batting average has dropped from .329 to .278 and his OPS from .945 to .806.