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NLCS Pitching Matchups: The Bullpen Game

A bullpen game is exactly how it sounds. Instead of going with a traditional starter, who will go 5-6 innings before turning it over to the bullpen, a reliever starts the game. That reliever pitches an inning, maybe two, and then it becomes a chess match. The managers are trying to confuse each other into getting the best matchups. It’s something you rarely see in the regular season, mostly because teams will always have a five-man rotation, no matter what.

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However, it happens frequently in the playoffs, especially closer to the World Series. Most teams only bring three true starting pitchers in the postseason, which means that in a seven-game series, game four usually turns into a bullpen game.

That’s what we are seeing here.

With the series at 2-1, both teams are throwing out openers to start the game. The Diamondbacks are throwing out inconsistent reliever Joe Mantiply, while the Phillies are surprisingly going with Cristopher Sanchez, who hasn’t pitched in almost a month. Most assume, however, that this will lead to the Phillies bringing out Taijuan Walker for a good chunk of innings. Neither Sanchez nor Walker have faced the Diamondbacks this year.

Mantiply had a good start to the postseason, but the Phillies crushed him in game two. He also faced them in June and gave up four runs over three innings. He will need to be perfect tonight. Mantiply will be facing three of the best playoff hitters in baseball: Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, and Bryce Harper. Sanchez will meet last night’s hero Ketel Marte, Corbin Carroll, and Gabriel Moreno.

Bullpen games are incredibly risky. You are asking every single pitcher to have a perfect night. If even one is off, the plan is ruined, and the season may be over.

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