PHILLIES (33-24) AT DODGERS (39-19)
10:10 p.m. ET; SNLA, MLBN, KTLA, NBCSP, MLB.TV
For those who focus on Clayton Kershaw experiencing a slight dip in pitch velocity the past few years while altering his approach as a concession to age, there remains one area that cannot be ignored regarding the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
The Dodgers have earned victories in all eight games Kershaw has started this season. Going back to 2018, the Dodgers are 16-0 in his past 16 starts.
So while the left-hander has a 3.46 ERA — more than a full run higher than his career mark of 2.42 — the victories continue to come. He does have a 5-0 record this season. And it all has Kershaw somewhat conflicted.
“I don’t know; it’s kind of a double-edge sword a little bit just because it could mean you’ve pitched really well but it’s that whole thing about a win as a starter,” a smiling Kershaw said of the team’s 8-0 record when he pitches, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s not that big of a deal, but if your team wins, ultimately, that’s why you play the game, right? I don’t know. It’s a misleading stat sometimes.”
Up next for Kershaw and the Dodgers is a home date Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Kershaw has not faced the Phillies in any his past 16 starts, and he has not exactly dominated them during his career.
Kershaw is 3-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 13 lifetime outings against the Phillies, making Philadelphia the only National League team he has a losing record against.
Not helping matters is the fact that Kershaw was far from sharp in his most recent outing, giving up three runs on a season-high 10 hits over six innings while still earning the win Monday against the New York Mets. The Dodgers’ offense took care of him in a 9-5 victory.
That Los Angeles lineup will enter the Saturday game leading the NL in most offensive categories, led by Cody Bellinger, who tops the list for most major individual categories. As to which Phillies pitcher has to take on that challenge, it remained undecided as of late Friday night.
With right-hander Zach Eflin placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday due to a tight back, the Phillies were weighing their options. Eflin was not scheduled to pitch Saturday, but his replacement on the roster, left-hander Cole Irvin, figures to be used in some capacity.
Irvin (2-1, 5.60 ERA), a Southern California native, was with the Phillies previously this season, making three starts. He has not previously faced the Dodgers in his brief major league career.
One possibility for the Phillies on Saturday would be to use right-hander Vince Velasquez (2-2, 4.64 ERA) as a one- or two-inning opener before Irvin takes the mound.
While the Phillies’ Bryce Harper entered the series coming off a three-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals in which he had eight hits, he went 0-for-4 against the Dodgers on Friday. Over his first 57 games in a Phillies uniform, Harper is batting .248 with 10 home runs and an NL-leading 76 strikeouts.
He owns a career .213 average against the Dodgers, with four home runs over 34 games, but the Phillies see reasons to think positively.
“He’s squaring a lot of balls up. He’s going opposite field,” Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola said of Harper, according to MLB.com. “I mean, in the back of my mind, I always thought he was going to turn it around pretty quick.”
–Field Level Media