PHILLIES (33-25) AT DODGERS (40-19)
4:10 p.m. ET; SNLA, NBCSP, MLB.TV
The Los Angeles Dodgers will return to division play if they must, but for one more day they will hope to enjoy the latest turn of the schedule.
The Dodgers will take on the Philadelphia Phillies at home Sunday afternoon, ending a run of 15 consecutive games against teams east of Colorado.
Saturday’s dramatic victory over the Phillies, when rookie Will Smith hit a game-ending home run in the ninth inning, made Los Angeles 11-3 in this current stretch.
Going back further to May 6, the Dodgers are 19-5, while playing all but two of those games against teams outside the National League West.
It is not as if the Dodgers struggle against the National League West. They are 13-5 against their regional foes, with a winning record against three teams and a 3-3 mark against the rival San Francisco Giants. But they have found a comfort zone playing teams like the Phillies, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.
So how do the Dodgers feel about things moving to a portion of the schedule where they will have six consecutive games against the division and 26 of the next 32 in the NL West? After all, they have a nine-game lead on the second-place Colorado Rockies.
“I still think that if we get a few things tightened up, we can be even better,” said bench coach Bob Geren, who was the Dodgers’ acting manager Friday while manager Dave Roberts attended his son’s high school graduation. “But I think anybody would take that.”
The Dodgers will send left-hander Rich Hill (1-1, 2.73 ERA) to the mound Sunday. He is coming off a season-high 104 pitches against the New York Mets, and over his last three outings he has a 1.50 ERA. Hill is 1-2 lifetime against the Phillies in seven appearances (four starts) with a 4.50 ERA.
In an effort to prevent a three-game sweep, the Phillies are expected to start right-hander Nick Pivetta (3-1, 7.71 ERA). Whether Pivetta stays in the Phillies’ rotation could depend on how he performs Sunday.
Pivetta did make two starts against the Dodgers in 2017, going 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA. His major league debut came at Dodger Stadium on April 30 of that year, when he gave up two runs on nine hits over five innings of a 5-3 defeat.
Phillies anager Gabe Kapler went with an opener for the first time Saturday, when left-hander Jose Alvarez delivered two scoreless innings. It is possible that Kapler could go the opener route again Sunday before going to Pivetta at some point.
The Dodgers’ lineup that is loaded with left-handed power hitters has given many teams fits, with the Phillies no exception. The Dodgers opened Friday’s lineup with six consecutive lefty bats, and three of them hit home runs off starter Jake Arrieta.
“We’ve been facing good lineups all year,” Arrieta said after Friday’s defeat. “I get lefties out. You can’t miss middle-in with spin to power-hitting left-handed hitters. You just can’t do it. That’s what I did too many times (Friday).”
After winning consecutive series against the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, the Phillies have already lost their first series since dropping three of four to the Brewers at home in the middle of May.
That was also the last time they had lost three consecutive games before the current three-game downturn. The Phillies have not lost four consecutive games this season.
–Field Level Media