It’s a potential National League playoff preview this week when the Los Angeles Dodgers, still favored on the MLB odds to win the World Series again, visit the surging Philadelphia Phillies, who have taken over first place in the NL East. The series opens Tuesday and the Dodgers will be favored.
MLB National League playoff preview
- When: Tuesday-Thursday
- Where: Citizens Bank Park
Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux (hamstring) began his minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. Lux has been sidelined since July 29 due to a left hamstring strain. He’s going to need at least a handful of games at Triple-A before he’s deemed ready to return. Thing is, Lux may not have a place in the everyday lineup when he is healthy with Corey Seager off the injured list and Trea Turner acquired from the Nationals. Turner made his debut off the COVID list on Saturday.
Dodgers starting pitchers have held the opposition to a .207 average this year. Just one other team has been better over the course of a full season in the last 100 or so years: Cleveland held foes to a .199 average in 1968.
The Phils are without outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who is on the injured list with knee inflammation. Since June 1, McCutchen’s 153 wRC+ ranks 18th in MLB (Freddie Freeman’s is 152 by comparison), his .964 OPS is 12th, .574 slugging percentage is 14th, .389 on-base percentage is 16th, 13 bombs are tied for 14th and is 15th among MLB outfielders in fWAR (1.4).
Despite not having McCutchen for a bit, the Phillies have won eight straight games for the first time since winning nine straight from July 29-August 6, 2011. During their eight-game winning streak, the Phils have outscored their opponents, 55-29 (+26). This marks the first time in over 100 years (last: September 1916), the Phillies were at least 4.0 games out in August or later only to find themselves in 1st place within a span of 7 days.
Bryce Harper went yard on Sunday to reach the 20-homer plateau for the eighth time in his career (2012-13, 2015-19), joining Giancarlo Stanton (9), Mike Trout (8), Miguel Cabrera (8) and Albert Pujols (8) as the only active players who have reached eight or more 20-homer seasons by their age 28 season (age on 6/30 of said season). Harper has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games (since 7/23), posting a .551 on-base percentage in that span.
Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (9-4, 2.75) will make his second start as a Dodger on Tuesday. His LA Debut was last Wednesday against the Astros at Dodger Stadium, allowing two runs on five hits in 7.0 innings and picking up the win in the team’s 7-5 victory. He walked one, struck out 10 and threw 109 pitches.
Scherzer is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA (3 ER/18.2 IP) in three starts against the Phillies this year, with all three starts coming at Citizens Bank Park. He has gone 14-4 with a 2.55 ERA (44 ER/155.1 IP) in 24 career starts against the Phillies…is 8-1 in 11 career starts in Philly.
The Phils will start Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.49) on Tuesday. Nola was charged for five runs in five innings while picking up no decision last Thursday against the Nationals. Nola was having a decent start until a three-run homer allowed to Josh Bell. He struck out seven while allowing three walks in the no-decision. Nola has 152 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings (23 appearances), but the 4.49 ERA is too high.
Wednesday’s game, which will be nationally televised by ESPN, features David Price for the Dodgers and Kyle Gibson, a trade acquisition from Texas, for the Phils. They haven’t named a Thursday starter yet opposite LA Lefty Julio Urias.
- Dodgers win two of three
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