NLCS Predictions 2023

Jerry Beach
Last Updated: Oct 14, 2023

The Major League Baseball postseason is now the NCAA Tournament, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are the little mid-major that could.

The Diamondbacks began the season with 180-1 odds of winning the World Series and a payroll just north of $116 million, meaning their Opening Day roster could have been cloned twice and still been making less money than the New York Mets (a payroll of more than $353 million).

On their way to the National League Championship Series, sixth-seeded Arizona dispatched the Milwaukee Brewers (an Opening Day payroll of more than $118 million) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (an Opening Day payroll of more than $222 million) in a pair of sweeps.

Now, the Diamondbacks are in baseball’s final four, meaning they have a legitimate chance to become the most unlikely World Series winner since at least 1985, which is as far back as baseball’s preseason odds can be traced.

Can the Dbacks continue channeling their inner Cinderella in the NL Championship Series? Or will the Philadelphia Phillies, who made the World Series as the sixth seed in the NL last year and have the highest payroll (more than $243 million) of any 2023 playoff team, be a Goliath too tall for David to strike down?

National League Championship Series Odds

All MLB betting odds used for these NLCS predictions are current as of Saturday, Oct. 14, and courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Philadelphia Phillies vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Phillies (-170) | Diamondbacks (+145)

NLCS Prediction

(4) Philadelphia Phillies vs (6) Arizona Diamondbacks

Payrolls and expectations are irrelevant now.

The Diamondbacks’ three scheduled starters for the NL Division Series at Milwaukee — Brandon Pfaadt, Zac Gallen, and Merrill Kelly — combined to post a 4.43 ERA in road games this season. Arizona went 5-8 against the Dodgers this season while being outscored 72-47. And it all mattered not a whit as the Diamondbacks pounded 13 homers while outscoring the Brewers and Dodgers 30-11.

Likely NL Rookie of the Year, Corbin Carroll hit .412 with two homers and four RBI in the first two rounds, and fellow 20-somethings Gabriel Moreno and Alek Thomas combined for three homers and six RBI against Los Angeles. Pfaadt, Gallen, and Kelly allowed seven runs in 24 2/3 innings, while Arizona’s relievers recorded a 1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.

But the postseason-proven Phillies are going to present a far more challenging task. After outscoring the Miami Marlins 11-2 in a wild card series sweep, Philadelphia batted with a deficit just three times against the Braves — and would have scored in every instance if not for the instant classic double play in Monday night’s Game 2, when Michael Harris II robbed Nick Castellanos of the game-tying extra-base hit before doubling up Bryce Harper for the final out.

Orlando Arcia, of course, gloated about it a few minutes later, and the Braves will spend the winter whining about their interpretation of journalistic ethics after Harper and Castellanos combined for six homers in the next two games to eliminate a 100-win Atlanta squad in the NLDS for the second straight season.

Six players have homered so far for the Phillies, who are hitting .274 in the first two rounds. Starters Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suárez have combined for a 1.57 ERA, and manager Rob Thomson is mixing and matching the back end of the bullpen to perfection. Closer Matt Strahm? Sure, closer Matt Strahm.

The Phillies have waited all year to get back to this point. The Diamondbacks won’t provide any bulletin board material and will display a better collective jaw than the Braves. But midnight strikes over the next few days.

Phillies vs Diamondbacks Pick: Phillies in 5 Games

NLCS Best Bet

Nick Castellanos: Most Total Bases (+1200)

With back-to-back two-homer games in Games 3 and 4, Castellanos probably would have been the NLDS MVP if such a thing existed. (Why doesn’t such a thing exist?)

Narratives tend to creep their way into things such as a series MVP, which means a big few games from reigning NLCS MVP Bryce Harper — whose two homers were half those hit by Rhys Hoskins against the San Diego Padres last October — will put him in line to earn another trophy. A pitcher like Wheeler or Nola could also win the award with a pair of strong starts.

Thus, Castellanos is uniquely positioned to have a big series in relative anonymity. This might be a little bit of recency bias at play — Castellanos entered the NLDS with just one homer and nine RBI in 24 postseason games — but he’s collected 30 doubles in seven of his nine full seasons, including a whopping 58 in 2019.

He doesn’t have to leave the yard often to make this an enticing bet.

NLCS Schedule

Monday, Oct. 16

Game 1: Diamondbacks @ Phillies — 8:07 p.m. ET

Tuesday, Oct. 17

Game 2: Diamondbacks @ Phillies — 8:07 p.m. ET

Thursday, Oct. 19

Game 3: Phillies @ Diamondbacks — 5:07 p.m. ET

Friday, Oct. 20

Game 4: Phillies @ Diamondbacks — 8:07 p.m. ET

Saturday, Oct. 21

Game 5: Phillies @ Diamondbacks — 8:07 p.m. ET***

Monday, Oct. 23

Game 6: Diamondbacks @ Phillies — 5:07 p.m. ET***

Tuesday, Oct. 24

Game 7: Diamondbacks @ Phillies — 8:07 p.m. ET***

***if necessary


Jerry Beach

Jerry Beach began his journalism career as a high school senior in Connecticut in 1990 and has been covering professional sports in the northeast since 1997. He has written three books, including “Fighting Words,” a history of the Boston Red Sox and the local media, and “Subway Series,” a 20th anniversary look back at the 2000 World Series. A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and the Pro Hockey Writers Association, Jerry currently covers the Mets and Islanders while also writing about Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame for numerous outlets. Jerry, a graduate of Hofstra University, lives on Long Island with his wife, daughter and way too many media guides to count.

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