Diamondbacks’ Paul Sewald locking it down this postseason, expects to factor in Game 7

Oct 24, 2023, 2:53 PM

Paul Sewald...

Paul Sewald #38 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game 3 of the Division Series at Chase Field on October 11, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA — Arizona Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald expects to play a role, save situation or not, in Game 7 of the NLCS on Tuesday at the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

“Probably going to pitch no matter what would be my guess, and I’ll be as ready as I can,” Sewald said on Monday after a 5-1 Arizona win to extend the series.

Sewald threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning on 11 pitches in Game 6, continuing a stellar postseason run in which he has yet to allow a run. He struck out Nick Castellanos swinging at a high fastball he set up with a sweeper in the same spot and Brandon Marsh looking at a sweeper after he fouled off a pair of fastballs.

In the NLCS, he’s struck out five of the last seven hitters he’s faced.

“The results have been good, I am just trying to hold on to every single game,” Sewald said. “When you get on a roll in the regular season, it feels nice. This is just, every game feels like the biggest game we’ve ever played. It’s hard to worry about personal stats rather than just the fact that the team gave me a 5-1 lead and in the end that was appreciated.”

Sewald is the first Diamondbacks pitcher with five saves in a postseason run. He is one of three pitchers with at least seven innings pitched and a 0.00 ERA. D-backs setup man Kevin Ginkel and Philadelphia’s Jose Alvarado are the other two.

Much has been made about Sewald’s arrival evening out the bullpen by putting pitchers into set roles. But his personal results, despite some roller coaster rides, have been exactly what the D-backs needed out of a closer since his first save opportunity went awry in Minnesota on Aug. 6.

Sewald said he was not as crisp as he was with the Seattle Mariners right after getting traded at the deadline, which was frustrating. It took a while for the D-backs to use him since they went on a nine-game losing streak at the time.

But he saved 13 games after that Minnesota loss — third most in MLB — and blew one opportunity. He owned a 2.16 ERA over that stretch despite a high walk rate (4.86 per nine innings) and WHIP (1.38). But the “Paul Sewald Experience” usually involved a a triumphant yell and disheveled base runners heading back to the dugout.

This postseason started similarly, especially Game 2 of the wild card round when he had runners on second and third with two outs and a 5-2 lead over the Brewers.

Since then, opponents have two hits and a walk with eight punch outs over five innings.

Manager Torey Lovullo said Sewald is rested, which has led to strong command of both the fastball and sweeper. He didn’t pitch in a week going into the NLCS.

“We were getting after him pretty hard, I know there were some moments where his command might have not been as great with both of his pitches,” Lovullo said. “The fact that we’ve been using him in the right place, giving him the right amount of rest, he’s able to duplicate his delivery, land two pitches very effectively on both sides of the plate, and just collect quick, easy outs.”

Sewald said he’s felt fresh but not rusty this postseason so far.

Going into Game 7, Sewald said there’s plenty of familiarity between him and the Philadelphia hitters.

“I only have two pitches, and all those guys know the two pitches that I have, so I’m not throwing anything crazy out there that they haven’t seen before,” Sewald said. “It’s a matter of executing. That’s the most important thing.”

First pitch is at 5:07 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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