Phillies @ Dodgers May 28, 2018: Velasquez vs. Stewart

The Phillies (29-21) and the Dodgers (24-28) meet for the first time this season, as they start a four game series in Los Angeles. They’ll also play a three game series in Philadelphia come the end of July. The Dodgers are 8-2 in their last 10 games, and have now won three consecutive series. They’re also 12-15 at home on the year, while the Phillies are 10-12 on the road. The Phillies are 5-5 in their last 10, holding on to a very strong start to their season. The Phillies will send 25 year-old Vince Velasquez (4.18 ERA/4.06 FIP/ 2.76 DRA) against Brock Stewart (3.72/6.11/4.48) and the Dodgers.

Phillies
Dodgers
5:10 PM
Los Angeles
2B
Hernandez
LF
Pederson
LF
Hoskins
1B
Muncy
CF
Herrera
3B
Turner
1B
Santana
C
Grandal
3B
Franco
CF
Bellinger
RF
Williams
SS
Taylor
SS
Kingery 2B Utley
C
Alfaro
RF
Puig
P
Velasquez
(R)
P
Stewart
(L)

Max Muncy and Joc Pederson are starting again against the right-handed Velasquez. This moves Cody Bellinger back to the outfield, as he’s one of the only guys that can comfortably play both positions. Enrique Hernandez, Matt Kemp, and Logan Forysthe all have the day off against the right-handed starter. The Bellinger, Hernandez, Muncy “platoon” is interesting because you have technically two first baseman and two centerfielders. Against a RHP, Muncy can start at first with Bellinger in center, and a double switch can get Hernandez in at center moving Bellinger back to first, and vice versa.

——

There have been 95 starting pitchers who’ve thrown at least 50 innings, and Velasquez ranks decently among those. Stewart has thrown all of 9.2 innings in the MLB this year, and only four of those came in a start. He hasn’t been great in his short stint this year, but I’ll put his numbers in just to see how he compares.

Velasquez has had a decent start to the year, and as the Phillies fourth starter he’s more than adequate. His performance has been solid, but his peripherals (DRA, SIERA, xFIP) all lean towards his actual performance improving with more starts. He sits 94-96 with the fastball, and mixes in a slider, curve, and a changeup. Over his career, he’s been slightly worse against left-handed hitters (4.74 ERA/ 4.71 FIP) as opposed to RHH (4.07/3.78). This year, those splits have increased heavily. Right-handed hitters are slashing .181/.272/.242 against him with a .237 wOBA, however, left-handed hitters are slashing .315/.367/.631 with a .418 wOBA. He’s been elite against RHH, and terrible against LHH, so it makes sense to stack the lefties as the Dodgers did tonight.

As it’s the first game of the series — this is how the two offenses compare:

The Dodgers and Phillies have had nearly identical offenses this year, mediocre in almost all categories besides walk rate. The Dodgers have also had the better starting rotation believe it or not (I’m planning on explaining this further this week). The Dodgers have a run differential of +22, while the Phillies are +38, but the Phillies bullpen has given up 22 less runs. The Phillies don’t have a great bullpen, but it’s been much less bad than the Dodgers’ pen. Besides that, it’s just luck. For example, the 2018 BaseRuns Standings (expected standings) have the Dodgers at 27-25, and the PythagenPat expected standings have the Dodgers at 28-24. It’s turning around, it just takes a while.

——

In terms of the roster:

The Dodgers backend bullpen pieces continue shifting around as always.

They likely don’t rush Hyun-Jin Ryu back, but it’s a good sign that he’s progressing well. Clayton Kershaw also threw a bullpen today, in prep for his return on Thursday.

Also, we’re exactly one week away from the 2018 MLB Draft.

First pitch is at 5:10 PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Allan Yamashige
Just a guy living in Thousand Oaks, CA who happens to love the Dodgers and statistics. I'm currently studying at Moorpark Community College and plan on transferring into UC Santa Cruz's Business/Economics/Computer Science program. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about adults doing baseball is alright.