The Dodgers just keep rolling along, taking three of four from the New York Mets this past week at Dodger Stadium.
It’s been said by many people, including Orel Hershiser, but this team has a 2017 feel about it. It doesn’t too often feel like they are completely out of the game. Their relentless offense has gotten to top tier closers like Josh Hader and Edwin Diaz. The comeback Wednesday night was truly something special to see. If they can take care of the issue that got them that far behind in the first place, (looking at you, bullpen), this team will be a complete juggernaut.
Coming into Friday’s game, Los Angeles sits atop the NL West standings with a record of 38-19, best in the NL and just behind the Minnesota Twins in percentage points for best in the Majors. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 games, and 8.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Oh, and they have the best pitcher and batter in the majors in Hyun-Jin Ryu and Cody Bellinger. Not too shabby.
They now turn their attention to the Philadelphia Phillies, who come into Chavez Ravine themselves a first place team. They are 33-23, three games ahead of the Atlanta Braves.
I jokingly asked a friend that is a Phillies fan what I should know about them, and this is what he said- “Their bullpen is decimated, their starting pitching is not good, and their bench is the worst in all of baseball, yet somehow they have the second best record in the National League”.
The Phillies are probably a bit better than my friend gives them credit for, being as they are in the position that they’re in. They employ a batting strategy similar to the Dodgers, working pitcher counts and taking their walks. Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper lead the NL in walks. Harper also has the most strikeouts in the majors.
One of the most sought after free agents this season, Harper is finally heating up. He was boo’d by his home fans for his lack of offense, but in his last 15 games he’s slashing .333/.369/.633 with three homers. He’s also had an extra base hit in each of his last three games.
McCutchen is having a very solid season as the Phillies’ leadoff man, beginning that parade of patience at the plate. Hoskins leads the team in homers, with 13.
Friday night’s pitching matchup will be Kenta Maeda and Jake Arrieta. The Phillies’ right-hander is 5-4 on the season, with a 3.60 ERA. He last went eight innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing only two runs and striking out eight.
Saturday will see Clayton Kershaw trying to keep his perfect record taking on Zach Eflin. Another righty, Elfin sits at 5-5 with a 3.02 ERA and 51 strikeouts. He only lasted 3.2 innings in his last outing.
If both teams stay on their patience at the plate, this series could turn into a battle of the bullpens, which worries many a Dodger fan. Let’s hope the Dodger offense just out-powers the Phillies’ offense, so their lacking bullpen isn’t quite a glaring factor.
Manager Dave Roberts will not be at the game on Friday, celebrating his birthday by attending his son’s high school graduation. Bob Geren will be the acting manager. Congratulations to the Roberts family!