The Phillies Turn to Ranger Suarez to Shut Down Padres in NLCS Game Three

Suarez Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 22: Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Ranger Suarez (55) delivers during the Major League Baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies on May 22, 2021 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)
How will Ranger Suarez fare in tonight’s game against the Padres?

Today is a new day for the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s Friday, the weekend is here. With the next three games of the National League Championship Series at home, the Phillies have a chance to take down the San Diego Padres and punch their first World Series ticket since 2009.

If you are one of the lucky 45,000 to attend today’s game, we salute you. Bring the rain.

Regardless if you are attending the game in person or plan to lose your voice screaming at a screen, there is one question at the forefront of every Phillies fans’ mind: how will Ranger Suarez fare? While my friend and betting extraordinaire Tommy Orme has provided a great foundation for the day’s matchup in today’s betting preview, we will dive a little deeper into everyone’s favorite Citizen’s Bank Park Ranger.

The Ranger’s Tool Belt

Ranger Suarez does not possess the most electric stuff in the league as a starting pitcher. The lefty owns a fastball averaging 93 MPH, but makes up for a lack of speed by using six total pitches to keep batters off balance.

Suarez certainly favors his sinker, which has thrown 40.2% of the time on the season. You will often see his sinker focused in on the low-outside corner of the plate (relative to right-handers). In the same area of the plate, Suarez will also throw his changeup, which will make up about 21.4% of his overall pitch selection.

Then come Suarez’s four-seam and cut-fastballs. Suarez focuses his four-seamer high and in, often elevating opposing bats, while his cutter drops on the inside corner of the plate. Occasionally, you will also find Suarez add in his curveball and slider low in the zone as well.

Phillies’ Suarez Completes First Full Season as a Starter in 2022

After a full season of season Suarez start from the bump, it is easy to forget a time where Suarez was one of the few bright spots in an abysmal Phillies’ bullpen. In 27 appearances out of the bullpen in 2021, Suarez pitched for a stellar 1.12 ERA over 40.1 innings with a WHIP of 0.868. After the Phillies transitioned him into a starting pitcher (out of necessity at the time), Suarez continued to put up similarly electric numbers with a 1.51 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 65.1 innings of work. Sure, his ERA went up a tad as did his WHIP (1.081 as a starter), but that is to be expected when you are asked to throw more innings per appearance.

Then came 2022.

With half of a season under his belt as a starting pitcher, opposing teams had a bit more information to go off when scouting the lefty this season. Previous to 2021, Ranger Suarez had only appeared in 67.2 innings over three years of work in Philadelphia. 2021 alone more than doubled the sample size of major league data.

With more to work off, it was expected that Suarez’s unsustainable 1.51 ERA as a starter would level out to a more typical level in 2022. Over the course of the season, Suarez performed admirably on the mound, pitching for a 3.65 ERA over 29 starts. Pitching a career-high 155.1 innings, Suarez saw his strikeout rate drop while the rate of home runs allowed by the lefty tripled.

While that last sentence may sound bad on paper, this will help put Suarez into a better perspective: out of his 27 starts this season, Suarez has pitched 5.0+ innings 20 times.

A Decent Showing in the NLDS

Ranger Suarez started out strong for the Phillies in Game One of the National League Division Series against the NL East Champion Atlanta Braves. Suarez allowed one run on three hits across 3.1 innings of work against the Braves with the only damage coming off a solo home run from Travis d’Arnaud to lead off the bottom of the second.

Suarez’s main issue in the NLDS was his command. While he pitched for five strikeouts, he also allowed five walks through 3.1 innings, bloating his pitch count to 86 pitches. He frequently missed high with his fastball, low with his breaking pitches, and inside on righties with his cutter.

While Ranger Suarez did not have as much polish as usual, he exited with a 6-1 lead, which would eventually become a 7-6 victory. As Suarez did not complete five innings as the starter, he was unable to be attributed the win as it fell instead to the most effective reliever, Seranthony Dominguez.

The 27-year old did not pitch his best against the tomahawk chant-induced Braves, but he is set for a better matchup on Friday, both due to home field advantage and favorable matchups.

How Does He Fair Versus the Friars?

Ranger Suarez made one start against the Padres this season, on June 23. Suarez earned the victory on the contest, a 6-2 final score, as today’s starter for the Padres, Joe Musgrove, earned the loss.

Suarez, the underdog in that matchup, hurled 7.1 innings on the day, outlasting Musgrove while only allowing two runs on seven hits and one home run. The home run? From Eric Hosmer, who now plays for the Boston Red Sox.

Against current Padres, Ranger Suarez has also done well. as Tommy breaks it down in the tweet above, the Padres’ top five have combined for only three hits in 25 at bats against Suarez lifetime. On his career, Suarez has also thrown for a strong 1.64 ERA in 11.0 innings pitched.

Phillies vs. Padres Game Three

The Phillies will look to Ranger Suarez to out-duel Musgrove in what could be the most important game of the series. If the Phillies can claim victory in Game Three, they will not only own the series advantage and momentum, but they will also retain the opportunity to close the series out at home in Game Five on Sunday.

If the Phillies drop Game Three, however, the Padres will regain home field advantage in the series. Additionally, with the Phillies down in the series, the stress will continue to mount on an already under-prepared pitching staff. Should the Phillies fall behind on the series, they may have to bring Zack Wheeler or Aaron Nola back to the fray on short rest to avoid potentially volatile starts from Noah Syndergaard, Bailey Falter, and Kyle Gibson.

Regardless, the Phillies phaitfuls are set to arrive en force throughout the home stretch as all three home games are sold out. With a sea of red engulfing the field of play, the Padres will not only have to deal with the Phillies on Friday night, but the city of Philadelphia as well.