5 Things a Casual D-Backs Fan Should Know About the World Series

Matthew JohnsonOctober 27, 2023
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Admittedly, we don’t cover the day-to-day news of our local sports teams here at PHOENIX, but we do follow it. Some of us are hardcore, diehard fans – especially yours truly. I’ve watched more Arizona Diamondbacks baseball this season than I can ever remember watching in the past. I planned my family summer vacation around seeing the D-backs on the road in Washington, D.C. in June and I was there at Chase Field for the Game 3 walk-off win against the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.

The hot takes I have to offer here are based on my astute baseball knowledge and observational skills. The following is intended to make the casual fan seem smarter at World Series parties and gatherings in the next week.

How Did This Team Get Here?

Manager Torey Lovullo went viral after the Wild Card series win over Milwaukee for his profanity-laced postgame locker room speech to the team where he said “a connected team is a dangerous team.” The connection means the next guy picks up the last guy. Starting pitchers Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt had brilliant starts after ace Zac Gallen struggled. Center fielder Alek Thomas and catcher Gabriel Moreno had clutch hits when star sluggers Corbin Carroll and Christian Walker failed to do so. Relievers Ryan Thompson and Kevin Ginkel worked their magic to escape the threat of a big inning when the previous pitchers put men on base. Outside of the dominant bullpen and Ketel Marte’s offensive prowess, there hasn’t been any one single player that has stood out as the hero in these playoffs. They’ve won and lost as a team – a connected team.

Biggest Key for the Diamondbacks

Have a lead and hand it off to the bullpen.

It seems almost an insane sentence to write about the D-backs bullpen, but it is nearly unbeatable at this point in the season. The acquisition of Paul Sewald at the trade deadline finally gave the team a much-needed closer (closer comes into the game in the 9th inning) and helped define roles for the rest of the relief pitchers on the roster. Kevin Ginkel figured out how to pitch midway through this season and has become a dominant setup guy (setup pitcher typically enters the game in the 8th inning). Side-slinging righty Ryan Thompson was picked up late in the season after Tampa Bay released him and he’s been frustrating opposing hitters ever since. Left-handed hurlers Andrew Saalfrank, Kyle Nelson and Joe Mantiply give Lovullo plenty of options for matchups at any point in the game.

D-Backs Hitter to Watch

Outfielder Corbin Carroll will be the runaway winner of National League Rookie of the Year, and if voters are honest, he’ll win it unanimously. Carroll struggled mightily in the first five-plus NLCS games against the Phillies, but appeared to find something in his swing late in the Game 6 win. That spilled over into an historic performance in Game 7, where he went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, two runs batted in and two stolen bases – numbers that haven’t happened for a player in a Game 7 since Ty Cobb did it in the early 1900s. If Carroll can continue to swing a hot bat and cause chaos on the base path, the D-backs offense will be in a good spot.

D-backs Pitcher to Watch

Ace Zac Gallen will start Game 1 of the World Series Friday night at Texas, which makes sense since he’s the ace, right? Well, he wasn’t very good in the NLCS and he hasn’t been very good pitching on the road this season. I’d like to counter both of those negative thoughts and chalk the first one up to struggling against Philadelphia his entire career. On the other point, remember that Gallen tossed a complete game shutout on the road at Chicago this year, so he’s capable of delivering away from Chase Field. It also sets up a potential Game 5 start at Chase Field, where he’s been very good all season long. The D-backs lost both of Gallen’s starts in the NLCS, but still prevailed. It can be done, but it would be a lot less stressful if Gallen pitched well enough for Arizona to win.

Tickets? LOL

Games 3, 4 and 5 at Chase Field sold out very quickly, but there’s always secondary ticketing sites such as SeatGeek and StubHub if you’re willing to spend five to 10 times the face value. At last check, the cheapest seat on SeatGeek was $750-plus for an upper deck seat. You’d be better off spending a quarter of that at a local sports bar to watch it on TV. Connect with your fellow Diamondbacks fans while you’re at it.