Series Preview: Red-hot Phillies return home to face the Diamondbacks

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber is congratulated by Rhys Hoskins after hitting a two-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Friday, June 3rd, 2022, the Phillies were sitting at 22-29 and had just let go of their manager. Friday, June 10th, 2022, the Phillies are now sitting with a 28-29 record, and interim manager Rob Thomson is undefeated. What a difference a week can make.

The Phillies are on an absolute tear, and the change in leadership has appeared to spark the club. Seven straight wins and back-to-back series sweeps have brought life back into the 2022 season. The Phillies are right back in the hunt for a Wild Card spot and have gained some ground on the New York Mets. While the results of the last week won’t last forever, Phillies fans once again have reason to believe that their 11-year playoff drought will end this October.

The Phillies will host the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games this weekend. Arizona started the season off hot and has begun to taper off. The D-Backs are coming into town with some energy as the club came back in the ninth to beat the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon.

Phillies to Watch

Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber

The weather is heating up, and so are the Phillies’ sluggers. Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper have started a healthy home run race. Heading into the series against the Diamondbacks, Schwarber and Harper have 15 home runs each. This weekend, keep an eye on both players to see who will take the lead in their long ball dual.

Seranthony Dominguez

It is no secret that the Phillies bullpen has been a weakness (again). Closer Corey Knebel started the year off strong but has struggled in his role. The one bright spot of the ‘pen has been Seranthony Dominguez.

Since returning from injury and Tommy John surgery, Seranthony has posted a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched. Dominguez has struck out 28 batters and walked just 7 in his 22 appearances. If Knebel continues to struggle, Rob Thomson should make the switch and allow Seranthony to be the team’s closer.

Winning close games has not been the Phillies’ strength the past few seasons, but a change in closer could provide much-needed security.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

Kyle Gibson (3-2, 4.40 ERA) vs. Zac Gallen (4-1, 2.40 ERA)

The Phillies are going up against an ace for a second consecutive game when they square off against Zac Gallen on Friday night. Gallen has been fantastic this season for the Diamondbacks and has, in part, been recent for their early success.

The Phillies will send Kyle Gibson to the mound to combat Zac Gallen. Gibson started the season strong before tapering off in his last few starts. The Phillies need Kyle to find himself again and pitch composed. An early lead would go a long way in tonight’s matchup.

Game 2:

Zack Wheeler (4-3, 3.14 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (2-5, 3.64 ERA)

Currently on the paternity list, Zach Wheeler is expected to be activated for his start on Saturday. Zach welcomed his second child into the world this week, and everything sounds like it turned out alright for the Wheeler family.

Wheeler has been brilliant again in 2022, and the Phillies will undoubtedly take another deep outing from their ace. He will be opposed by Madison Bumgarner, the former San Francisco Giant, who finds himself again this season. After a few rough years in the desert, Madison is seemingly trending back in the right direction. The Phillies will have to jump on him early and run his pitch count high.

Game 3:

Ranger Suarez (4-3, 4.42 ERA) vs. TBD

After a brilliant game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, the Phillies are hoping to get more of the same from Ranger Suarez.

The young lefty flashed seven strong innings against the Brew Crew in the Phillies’ win on Tuesday night. Suarez will face roughly the same talent in the Diamondbacks lineup as he did with the Brewers. Once Ranger gets settled in, he is one of the best arms the Phillies have. An early lead and some solid defense behind him can do just that on Sunday in the series finale against Arizona.

AP Photo/Morry Gash