After taking two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers this past weekend the Dodgers head to Philadelphia for a battle of National League playoff contenders.
The Dodgers and Phillies are certainly no strangers to battles. In the late 2000’s the Phillies made it a habit of dismantling the Dodgers on their way to the World Series. Now the script has changed, Chase Utley is a Dodger after all, but the two teams will enter Monday’s series as two of the better teams in the National League.
The Dodgers and Phillies last met at the end of May when the teams split a four-game series in Los Angeles. That was back when the Dodgers were starting to turn things around. Now the Dodgers seem to be fully back to playing like the NL favorites. Although the Dodgers will be with Yasiel Puig and probably Justin Turner for the series, the Dodgers offense is still very potent with the addition of Manny Machado.
Machado took no time breaking himself in with the Dodgers as he singled in his very first at-bat with the club and seemed to get on base every time he came to the plate this past weekend. Machado and the Dodgers will have the benefit of playing in a very hitter-friendly ballpark, but the Phillies’ rotation is anything but hitter-friendly.
The Phillies rotation ranks 4th in the National League with a 3.80 ERA and they rank 3rd in the NL in wins by starting pitchers. Although wins are not the best stat to judge a starting pitcher, it goes to show that the Phillies’ rotation has been piling up wins. The Dodgers will also be facing the Phillies’ three best starters in Zach Eflin, Aaron Nola, and former Cubs great Jake Arrieta.
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Eflin is first up Monday to open the series, and he comes into the game with a 7-2 record and a 3.15 ERA. The Dodgers actually gave Eflin his second loss of the season, and Eflin has not lost a game since. In his only start against the Dodgers this season, Eflin went four innings and allowed five earned runs. The Dodgers will look to repeat that performance and hang a five spot on Eflin.
On Tuesday the Dodgers will face NL All-Star Aaron Nola who outpitched Clayton Kershaw in May, throwing seven innings of one-run ball while striking out seven Dodgers. Nola’s stats have been Kershaw-like this season as he comes into Tuesday’s start with a 12-3 record and a 2.30 ERA. Nola also has a WHIP just below one as it sits at 0.98. Nola has a great changeup that he will look to keep lefties like Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy out of a rhythm with.
In Thursday’s matinee game, the Dodgers will face arch nemesis, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has owned the Dodgers throughout his career, pitching a no-hitter against them in 2015, and the Dodgers came into their last start against Arrieta with an ugly .078 batting average against Arrieta. Arrieta has lost a few ticks on his fastball but he is still having a solid season and he threw seven shutout innings against the Dodgers in May. Maybe this will be the game the Dodgers can finally knock the bearded one around.
The Dodgers and Phillies could be headed for a playoff matchup this season and they will meet for the last time in the regular season starting later on today. If the Dodgers offense is able to knock the Phillies rotation around this series then they could make a statement that they have the best lineup in the National League. Regardless of how the series ends up, this is a good litmus test for the new look Dodger offense, to see how they fare against three top top-tier starters.