Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Predictions, Odds, Best Bets, Starting Lineups for NLCS Game 1 (10/16/23)
The 2023 National League Championship Series kicks off tonight (10/16/23) at 8:07 p.m. ET when the Philadelphia Phillies host the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Phillies are relatively heavy home favorites for Game 1 at -165 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at just 7 runs.
This article provides Diamondbacks vs. Phillies analysis, predictions and best bets including a recommendation to bet on the Phillies -1.5 against the spread.
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies Prediction NLCS Game 1
Starting pitchers: RHP Zac Gallen vs. RHP Zack Wheeler
In a battle of two underdog teams that have caught fire at the perfect time, which one will prevail in Game 1? We’re going with the team that just knocked off the best team in baseball during the regular season and has the best home-field advantage in MLB postseason history.
With 4 wins at Citizens Bank Park so far this postseason, the Phillies are now 26-11 all-time at CBP in the playoffs. Their .703 home winning percentage is the highest of any team in any ballpark in postseason history (minimum 20 games). They have won 9 consecutive postseason home games against NL opponents going back to last season’s World Series run, when they went 5-0 at home in the NLDS and NLCS.
Thanks to both teams’ dominant performances in the NLDS, they were able to set up their rotation with each of their aces starting Game 1. Gallen was arguably the better ace during the regular season this year, but Zack Wheeler is the more playoff-tested starter.
Wheeler has a 2.59 ERA in eight career postseason starts, which is the 19th best ERA all-time among the 121 pitchers with at least 8 career postseason starts. His 0.72 WHIP is the best in that category by a decent margin – more than a tenth of a point better than Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson (0.85) and Bob Gibson (0.89). Wheeler has also been better than Gallen in his 2 starts so far this postseason, with a 2.08 ERA and 0.69 WHIP compared to Gallen’s 3.18 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.
Gallen was much better at home this season (2.47 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 102 innings) than he was on the road (4.42 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 108 innings). Now he has to pitch in a ballpark where his opponent has been virtually unbeatable in the playoffs for 2 years in a row.
We expect both Wheeler and Gallen to pitch well, and runs will be at a premium, especially with two strong bullpens being fully rested and available after a few days off. That makes it tempting to take the under on 7 runs, even with two red-hot lineups. We would take the under if we were betting the total, but at such a low number and with the way these lineups have been mashing, we prefer to stay away and focus instead on backing the Phillies.
Philadelphia has won Game 1 in each of its 6 postseason series over the last 2 years. They are the more experienced team with the better starting pitcher and a slightly better bullpen right now (as we discuss further below). We are confident enough in the Phillies tonight that we’re willing to lay the -1.5 runs to bet them at +132 odds, rather than taking the -165 moneyline odds that don’t offer much value.
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies Prediction: Phillies win 4-2, Phillies -1.5 (+132 at FanDuel)
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies Odds
ARI @ PHI
Oct. 16, 7:07 PM
Odds updated October 16th, 2023, at 9:48 pm
The Phillies are unsurprisingly a relatively heavy home favorite with -165 moneyline odds for Game 1, while the Diamondbacks are at +140 on the moneyline.
The Phillies are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +130 odds, while the Diamondbacks are getting +1.5 runs at -160 odds.
The over/under in this game has dropped 0.5 from its opening line to an even 7.0 runs, with -120 odds on the over and +100 odds on the under.
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Diamondbacks vs. Phillies.
Phillies’ pitchers vs. top of the order
The Diamondbacks have rampaged through the NL playoffs undefeated so far largely due to the top 4 hitters in their lineup. While their starting pitching and bullpen have been very good, it’s the bats of Corbin Carroll (1.389 OPS in the playoffs), Ketel Marte (.984), Christian Walker (1.023) and Gabriel Moreno (1.107) that have carried them. Those 4 hitters have accounted for 8 of the Diamondbacks’ 13 home runs and 19 of their 29 RBI in the postseason so far.
Carroll in particular stands out as the clear leader of the Diamondbacks’ lineup. The likely NL Rookie of the Year has done it all for Arizona, from setting the tone as the leadoff hitter to being a menace on the basepaths to being an elite outfield glove.
Carroll only reached base once in his 6 at-bats against Wheeler this season (0-for-5 with a 1 walk). Walker (9-for-17 with a 1.412 OPS) and Marte (4-for-10 with a 1.300 OPS) have much better career numbers against the Phillies’ ace, as does longtime Met and 3-hole hitter Tommy Pham (5-for-11, 1.327 OPS).
The Phillies’ superior pitching was the main reason we picked them to cover -1.5 in our Diamondbacks vs Phillies prediction. For that pick to pay off, Wheeler and the bullpen will need to limit the damage at the top of the Diamondbacks’ order.
The Diamondbacks’ bullpen looks very different right now than it did for most of the season. The trade deadline acquisition of Paul Sewald solidified the closer’s role, while Kevin Ginkel has come virtually out of nowhere to become an excellent set-up man. Arizona also acquired Ryan Thompson in August and called up rookie Andrew Saalfrank in September to help reinforce a relief staff that struggled for most of the season. Along with lefty Joe Mantiply, the Diamondbacks have five reliable arms that they can mix and match in high-leverage situations.
The Phillies are a bit deeper in the bullpen with seven different relievers that manager Rob Thomson used aggressively against the Braves in the NLDS. It will be interesting to see if Thomson uses lefty José Alvarado and righty Craig Kimbrel early in games like he did against the Braves. Alvarado and Kimbrel have split closing duties over the last few weeks, but Thomson used them in the sixth and seventh innings to get through the heart of the Braves’ order in critical situations.
The Phillies’ bullpen has been throwing the highest heat of any team left in the playoffs, with a 97.2 mph average on four-seamer and sinkers. By contrast, of the four teams remaining, Arizona has the least powerful bullpen arms with an average of 93.7 mph on those pitches.
With the deeper, more versatile and higher-octane arms in the bullpen, the Phillies should be able to create some advantages with their pitching matchups late in the game. That could end up being the difference not only in Game 1 but also in the series.
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies Starting Lineups (Projected)
Diamondbacks Starting Lineup
RF Corbin Carroll (L)
2B Ketel Marte (S)
DH Tommy Pham (R)
1B Christian Walker (R)
C Gabriel Moreno (R)
LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R)
CF Alek Thomas (L)
3B Evan Longoria (R)
SS Geraldo Perdomo (S)
Phillies Starting Lineup
DH Kyle Schwarber (L)
SS Trea Turner (R)
1B Bryce Harper (L)
3B Alec Bohm (R)
2B Bryson Stott (L)
C J.T. Realmuto (R)
RF Nick Castellanos (R)
LF Brandon Marsh (L)
CF Johan Rojas (R)