Aside from the usual “no one expects us to be here,” the reality is the Arizona Diamondbacks are actually “here.” To date, an effective bullpen and a key performance from Ketel Marte, an important player who has responded to the gravity of the moment, have powered this journey.
In the process, the Diamondbacks have elevated themselves onto baseball’s most glorious stage and now are participants for the biggest prize in this game.
The way the Diamondbacks have performed down the strength and in dispatching the Brewers, the Dodgers, and the Phillies in a gritting fashion says volumes to their resolve and commitment.
When game one starter in the World Series Arizona right-hander Zac Gallen told whoever would listen that “we’re playing with house money,” that might be an understatement.
“During the first month of the season and the last three months of the season, we played playoff baseball,” Gallen said before game one of the World Series. “We dug ourselves a deep hole there. And then the same thing going into Citizens Bank Park, losing the first two games and having our backs against the wall. It kind of seems to be the mantra of this team. We just like to play, I don’t know, with our backs against the wall.”
If Gallen and the Arizona pitching staff faced a formidable challenge in opposing Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm and the Philly bombers, the Texas Rangers represent a similar condition. This lineup, too, is replete with production and the Arizona staff needs to be cognizant of shortstop Corey Seager and right fielder Adolis Garica.
Both are coming off strong productive seasons and Garcia, in particular, has set the post-season aflame. His .327 batting average in the post-season is combined with power and now, makes him the most formidable bat in the Rangers lineup.
As well, the Diamondbacks are familiar with Seager, who, previously with the Dodgers, paid seven seasons of visits to Chase Field. Seager finished the 2023 season with a lofty .327 batting average and chipped in with 33 home runs and knocked in 96 runs.
Third baseman Josh Jung is another bat with whom the Diamondbacks must be careful. One of the candidates for American League rookie-of-the-year, the 25-year-old native of nearby San Antonio, Texas, banged out 23 bombs and drove in 70 runs.
Yet, the remainder of the Texas line-up appears manageable.
From Seager’s .327 average this past season, there is a considerable drop to the next highest average. That belongs to second baseman Marcus Semien, who hit. 276 and DH Mitch Garver contributed with a .270 batting average.
Another familiar face opposing the Diamondbacks is Rangers’ game one starter right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who made his major league debut on Aug 8, 2011 in Chase Feidl. In that game, he earned a 5-3 win and for 2023, the 33-year-old went 12-5 and a 3.63 ERA in 25 starts.
Eovaldi’s start in this World Series came after Tommy John surgery and he missed most of the 2020 season.
“There was never a doubt in my mind that I’d come back, and I’d be healthy,” he said before game one. “I put a great deal of trust into everybody that I’m around. I’m not a doctor and don’t know how to do Tommy John surgery. I trust them to make sure that they do it right and I’m going to do what they tell me to make sure I come back and I’m better.”
Next … In game two, the Diamondbacks will go with righty Merrill Kelly and the Rangers are likely to start lefty Jordan Montgomery. For games three, four and five, the series shifts to Chase Field in Phoenix. If games six and seven are necessary, these will be played at Globe Life on Nov. 3 and 4.
PREDICTION – Key to this series is the Arizona bullpen shutting down the Rangers’ offense. Look for set-up reliever Kevin Ginkel and closer Paul Sewald to continue to be effective. Also, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo will unlock the chains on Corbin Carroll and the presumptive National League rookie-of-the year will be the difference in several Arizona victories in this series.
The Diamondbacks win in six games.