Phillies vs Diamondbacks: Series preview, matchups to watch & starting pitchers

Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber follows through after hitting a two-run home run against San Diego Padres pitcher Adrian Morejon during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 17, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

At long last, the Philadelphia Phillies will get their chance to face the Arizona Diamondbacks again. For as good of a season as the Phillies have had so far, this weekend series at Citizens Bank Park could be a nice way to exercise some demons from last fall.

Eyes on the Phillies

The Phillies, coming off a series win but a finale loss to the San Diego Padres, could be the first National League squad to win 50 games this season. Trea Turner is finally back in action and J.T. Realmuto remains sidelined but the Phils are still well ahead in the NL East standings. They haven’t lost a home series since April (though they have tied some even-numbered ones) and had a day of rest before welcoming their next opponent to town.

Castellanos phillies
Philadelphia Phillies’ Nick Castellanos runs after hitting a game-winning RBI-double against San Diego Padres pitcher Robert Suarez during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A look at the Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks come into this series with a record of just 37-38. Corbin Carroll hasn’t had a very good season (.633 OPS) and the defending NL champs’ pitching staff is in disarray due to injuries to Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez. Brandon Pfaadt and his 4.37 ERA are the highlights of the Snakes’ starting pitching now that Gallen is on the shelf. Offseason signing Jordan Montgomery has been a disappointment and Rodriguez has yet to make his 2024 debut due to a shoulder injury.

By all accounts, the Phillies look like a significantly superior team than the Diamondbacks. They should make for a very beatable opponent on their home field. But as all of Philadelphia learned last October, that doesn’t mean that they still can’t get bitten.

The first pitches are scheduled for 6:40 P.M. on Friday, 4:05 P.M. on Saturday and 11:35 A.M. on Sunday (all times EDT). Friday’s game will be broadcast exclusively on Apple TV+ but still feature Tom McCarthy, John , and Taryn Hatcher while also adding Ryan Spilborghs to the booth. Sunday’s game will be exclusively on the Roku Channel.

Probable starting pitchers

Montgomery gets the ball first opposite Taijuan Walker tonight. A 6.00 ERA from the away team’s starter and a 5.33 ERA from the home team’s starter hints strongly at a high-scoring game. The bullpen could be a major difference-maker for each team, but Philly would never let Arizona’s pen shut its high-powered offense down, right?

On Saturday, Zack Wheeler duels with left-handed starter Tommy Henry, who hasn’t gone five innings in any of his last five starts and just allowed five runs in four innings to the Chicago White Sox. Wheeler isn’t coming off too good of a game himself, as the Baltimore Orioles stuffed him into a locker with eight earned runs in 4.1 innings. Both pitchers are aiming for redemption.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Cristopher Sanchez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

On Sunday, Cristopher Sanchez will start opposite Slade Cecconi. Sanchez is in the midst of a great season but could be challenged by the D-Backs, who not only have a lot of right-handed hitters but have some key switch hitters in Ketel Marte and Geraldo Perdomo. Marte, in particular, dominates lefties. But as long as his offense takes care of business against the right-handed Cecconi, he should be fine.

Honoring Cole Hamels

Before the first game of the series, Hamels will officially retire as a member of the Phillies. David Dahl changed his jersey number from 35 to 31 out of respect but the number isn’t being retired.

Hamels is the last player from the 2008 Phils to officially retire from MLB. The tall lefty made three All-Star games for the Phillies, pitched a no-hitter in his last game in the red pinstripes and was the MVP for both the 2008 NLCS and World Series. He appears all over the franchise career leaderboards: third in strikeouts, fourth in games started, fifth in strikeouts per nine innings and sixth in wins, just to name a few.

The pre-game festivities for Hamels, which include special guests and a video tribute, will begin at 6:25 PM EST and will be shown on the Apple TV+ broadcast.

Matchup to watch: Kyle Schwarber vs. Joc Pederson

June Schwarber breaks for no one.

The Schwarbomb launcher’s 1.432 OPS and six home runs over his last 10 games are once again signs that summer is truly here. The fact that he’s hitting better against lefties than righties this season is a bad sign for the D-Backs’ starters. There will very likely be a ball or two sent into the stands by the Phillies’ slugger in this series.

The Diamondbacks have a very productive DH of their own — one who many people thought would sign with the Phillies this winter.

This past December, Pederson randomly posted a very Phillies-centric Instagram post. There was no traction on a deal with Philadelphia and he ended up joining the Diamondbacks, who leads in batting average (.297), on-base percentage (.394) and slugging percentage (.520). He and Marte are the primary engines for Arizona’s offense.

Schwarber and Pederson have both been entirely phased out of defense in favor of making them full-time hitters. The results have been good for both veterans. Although Pederson wasn’t a part of last year’s postseason matchup, he’s surely coming into this series with plenty of motivation to do damage for his team.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum