The Dodgers (67-45) visit the Philadelphia Phillies (59-53), as they begin their six game road trip in the NL East. The Phillies are currently the hottest team in baseball, with an eight game winning streak, recently sweeping the Mets (56-55), and taking over first place in their division. The Dodgers are coming off a series win against the Angels (56-56), and are looking to make up ground in the NL West.
The San Francisco Giants (71-41), still own the best record in baseball and hold a four game lead in the division with just 50 games remaining. They’re showing no signs of slowing down, so the team will need to kick it into gear and take the division from them. If they plan to do that, it starts against the red hot Phillies, with Aaron Nola on the mound. Luckily, Max Scherzer will be starting tonight, looking to terrorize the Phillies as he’s done for years.
|RF||McKinney (L)||CF||Jankowski (L)|
|P||Scherzer (R)||P||Nola (R)|
I wrote this prior to Mookie Betts being scratched from the lineup, but I’ll just keep this little paragraph here anyways, because it’s nice to imagine that Justin Turner and Betts were healthy and in this lineup too. Hopefully, eventually everyone will be healthy and able to form the powerhouse lineup that they can be.
Despite Turner (and Betts) being out, this lineup is still ridiculous. Outside of Scherzer, and Cody Bellinger who has been struggling mightily, this lineup features seven (now six) great offensive players. Based on their 2021 performances, the worst player in this lineup thus far outside of the two aforementioned players is Corey Seager, recovering from injury and with a 113 wRC+ on the year (now Billy McKinney at 83 wRC+). Just an insane lineup to be honest, featuring four (now three) 2021 All-Stars, one of the hottest hitters in the game in AJ Pollock, and the recovering World Series MVP, Seager.
The Dodgers are second in wRC+ at 116, and fourth in OPS at .784, while Philadelphia is 15th with a 103 wRC+, and tenth with a .755 OPS. The Dodgers have also been the best offensive team against right-handed pitching this year, with a 120 wRC+ and a .799 OPS.
Additionally, team performance at this point in the year is the only thing that matters, but if Fernando Tatis Jr. misses extended time, Max Muncy and Bryce Harper are likely the two NL MVP favorites. A good showing from Muncy would probably boost his chances at that, but if Tatis Jr. returns soon and is healthy for the remainder of the year, he’ll win it. (Trea Turner winning it is not out of the question).
Here’s how Nola and Scherzer Matchup.
Last time out, in his first start for the Dodgers, Scherzer earned the win over Houston, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk over seven innings, while striking out ten. He was dominant, and got the team a win against the Astros that they desperately needed. If the team does ultimately end up in the Wild Card game as opposed to winning the division, there aren’t many pitchers in the league I’d prefer starting in that game. Scherzer is 3-0 against the Phillies this season, with a 1.45 ERA in those three starts. His last start as a member of the Nationals came in Philadelphia, allowing one run in six innings. He has a 2.55 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP against the Phillies over 155.1 innings in his career, with 195 strikeouts. The only team he has more strikeouts against is the Mets (198), who he’ll also likely pitch against this weekend.
Nola allowed five runs on five hits and three walks over five innings with seven strikeouts against Washington in his last start. After being the ace for the Phillies over the last few years, he’s had a somewhat disappointing 2021 season thus far, while Zack Wheeler has made a big emergence. He has that mediocre 4.49 ERA, and a 5.80 ERA over his last six starts. Despite that, a handful of metrics expect Nola to perform much better than that moving forward.
There have been 76 starters with at least 100 innings pitched this season, and the 0.94 difference between his 3.55 FIP and 4.49 ERA is the sixth highest in baseball. xFIP also has him at 3.48, SIERA has him at 3.36, and DRA- has him at 78, 14th of those 76 starters. Baseball Reference has him logging 20.4 bWAR over his previous four seasons, coming seventh in Cy Young voting in 2020, and third in 2018. He hasn’t been nearly as good this year, but there is reason to believe he’ll have a strong close to his season and find his form that he’s been missing this year.
This makes some sense. Obviously Chris Taylor can manage to play third base for some time as well, if necessary.
Not ideal. They’ll have a couple days to determine if an IL stint is the best course of action.
Very bad! Betts can’t catch a break.
Reliever Conner Greene was activated today, as it’s likely the team will use a lot of relievers during this series.
This is why extra relief pitching might be needed come Thursday. David Price will be pitching tomorrow.
Corey Knebel is back after an injury occurring in the middle of April. He’s a high leverage reliever, so hopefully he’s healthy and feeling good. As far as I’m concerned, there hasn’t been a reason listed for placing Joe Kelly on the IL, so it’s possible this is just a quick roster shuffle to get relief help for the series.
First pitch is at 4:05 PM PDT on SNLA.