We are back with a special edition of the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  The Phillies are in the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Tune in at 8:00 p.m. on 97.3 ESPN to listen.  As we prepare, here are your questions from the Phillies Mailbag.

Would you start either Taijuan Walker or Cristopher Sanchez game 4 and why?

The Phillies got through the first two rounds of the playoffs with just Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez taking the ball to start the games.  However, the longer the series, the more that teams will need to find starters.  It's clear that Wheeler and Nola will get two starts each if the series goes seven.  Suárez will start game 3.  But game 4 will need to come from someone else.

I would pitch Taijuan Walker in game 4.  Here's why.

It's true that Walker slowed down as the season went on.  The Phillies were very aware of this; they used the acquisition of Michael Lorenzen to give him nine days of rest between starts.  That seemed to do well for him as he pitched five or more innings down the stretch.

Walker has had 16 days of rest, with a simulated game on Sunday.  Manager Rob Thomson said he is "rusty", as is Sanchez.  But anyone that the Diamondbacks might start would be, too.

But in the season, Walker pitched to a 3.59 against right-handed pitching.  With the Diamondbacks bring a lineup featuring righties Christian Walker, Gabriel Moreno, Lourdes Gurriel, Tommy Pham, and Evan Longoria, I like the right-handed arm facing them.  That would be extra helpful after facing Suárez on Wednesday.

The Diamondbacks currently have few options. Brandon Pfaadt will pitch game three and not give them many innings, if the NLDS is any indication.   He, or the bullpen, will be stretched thin in game three.

So I think the Phillies will do just fine in game 4 with Walker.

Would you change the Phillies lineup?  Alec Bohm has not done much.

It's true.  Alec Bohm has not been among the Phillies who have been putting up numbers this Postseason. In the 2023 Postseason, he is just 4 for 24, for a .167 batting average.  He has driven in two runs.

Meanwhile, Nick Castellanos has been on fire.  Despite batting seventh with the lighter-hitting Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas behind him, Castellanos is batting .370, with five home runs and an unbelievable 1.414 OPS in 27 at bats.

The lineups for tonight's game 2 have been announced.  And despite the heroics of Castellanos in recent nights, he remains batting seventh, with Bohm staying in the four-hole.

I am okay with that.  (Or should I say, "A-OK?")

The Phillies are winning.  I would have a hard time changing up the lineup given their ability to take out their opponents in all but one game this postseason.  Having Castellanos further in the order keeps the Phillies scoring throughout the lineup, and keeps the other teams on their toes.

So I would leave it alone.

Are you in favor of re-signing Aaron Nola? If so, how much and how many years?

It's been a while since we discussed a possible contract extension and Aaron Nola.  The Phillies and Nola did not come to terms by the self-imposed end-of-Spring Training deadline set by Nola.  They decided to let the contract play out.

Nola is in the last year of a four-year, $45 million contract extension ahead of the 2019 season, which included a $16 million option for 2023.  Of course the Phillies exercised that option.  Nola and the Phillies both said publicly they were looking for a reunion.

So what would it take for such a deal?  The biggest comparison that came up a lot is new Yankees starter Carlos Rodón.   The 30 year-old Rodón signed a six-year, $162 million contract ahead with the New York Yankees this offseason.  Nola turns 30 years old himself this season, so there would naturally be the comparison.

However, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY recently reported Nola's ambitions, which would suggest that it might be a very uncomfortable deal for the Phillies:

Nola was seeking an eight-year contract in excess of $200 million, while the Phillies were hoping to sign him to a four- or five-year deal. Talks broke off, Nola bet on himself and if he continues to pitch well this postseason, he just might get that payday from someone else.

The "someone else" might be more likely if that is what Nola wants.

Upon the trades of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, I immediately suggested that Nola might fit in New York, where they will want to build pieces for 2023 and beyond.  They may be willing to eat a bad deal at the end of a contract.

Nola is 30 years old An eight-year contract would take him through his age 38 season.  The aforementioned Verlander and Scherzer are mostly successful this season, though both have battled injury.  Nola has a pretty empty injury history, but his age will catch up with him at some point.

I think Phillies president Dave Dombrowski will be prudent this offseason.  I think if the deal is more than six years, the Phillies will be out.  It's hard to imagine them stretching further than that.  I think a lot could depend on whether the Phillies can acquire a suitable replacement for Nola.


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