In consecutive seasons, the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers exhibited exceptional prowess during the regular campaign, positioning themselves as formidable contenders in the National League Championship Series. Yet, for the second year running, their aspirations were thwarted by intradivision adversaries. The Philadelphia Phillies, in a remarkable repetition, delivered a resounding setback to the Braves, while the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that secured 16 fewer regular-season victories than the Dodgers, audaciously ventured into Los Angeles and executed a stunning sweep, thus vanquishing their long-standing dominators in the National League West.
The comprehensive triumphs of these Wild Card entrants inevitably reignited discourse surrounding the structural nuances of the expanded postseason format. Nonetheless, the fundamental focal point here should be the fact that the teams now gracing the NLCS have arrived at this juncture on the strength of their sublime performance. The Phillies boast a constellation of baseball luminaries and are surging with unwavering confidence. Their home field, Citizens Bank Park, arguably furnishes the most potent home-field advantage in the realm of baseball. Nevertheless, the Diamondbacks are poised to approach this grand stage with unwavering composure, thanks to their assertive style of play, which frequently compels adversaries into committing costly errors.
While the names Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte, and Christian Walker may not resonate as loudly as Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Nick Castellanos, the upper echelon of Arizona's batting order possesses the capacity to unsettle any opposing pitching staff. Carroll, in his rookie year, managed to amass 25 home runs, 30 doubles, and 10 triples. Walker, a player often underrated, stands out as one of baseball's more potent hitters, while Marte, performing at a remarkable .318 clip in October, adds a layer of unpredictability.
Nonetheless, the primary challenge for the Diamondbacks will be securing sufficient pitching depth to contend with the Phillies. Both teams can likely deploy their top two starting pitchers – Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly for Arizona, and Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola for Philadelphia – in four crucial matchups. Yet, it is evident that Philadelphia holds a notable advantage in the remaining three encounters. Although Arizona has demonstrated unwavering resolve, it remains a youthful team that has never progressed this far in postseason play. Contrastingly, the Phillies, having reached the World Series just last season, bring a wealth of experience to this high-stakes competition.