Game: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies
Time: 7:05p.m. ET
Starting Pitchers: Max Scherzer vs. Aaron Nola
Odds: Dodgers -154, Phillies +145
One look at the Philadelphia Phillies statistical profile and you wouldn’t think they would fit the role of division leader. After a string of eight consecutive wins, that is exactly where Philadelphia sits – leading the NL East. At 59-53, the Phillies have a two-game lead over Atlanta and a 2.5-game lead over the New York Mets.
Philadelphia averages 4.62 runs per game. That number is 12th overall in MLB. The pitching staff sports a 4.41 ERA. That ranks 18th. Neither is spectacular, but Philadelphia is doing just enough to win games.
Now, they find themselves home underdogs to the Los Angeles Dodgers. To make it even tougher, the Phillies will have to go up against one of the Dodgers’ three Cy Young winners – Max Scherzer.
On July 29, Scherzer pitched against Philadelphia and picked up a 3-1 win. Scherzer would pitch six innings, allowing one earned run, and strike out five. For the season now (including his time in Washington), Scherzer is 9-4 with a 2.75 ERA. He also won his last start, a rather impressive 7-5 victory over Houston. Scherzer went seven innings, allowed two earned runs, and struck out 10.
Opposite Scherzer is Aaron Nola, who is 7-6 with a 4.49 ERA this season. Nola was tagged for five earned runs in his last start. He didn’t figure into the decision, but his Phillies figured out a way to pull out a 7-6 victory. Nola averages 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings and actually has the ability to match Scherzer.
With two quality pitchers facing off in Philly tonight, the Under is a consideration. The Under is actually 4-1 in the Phillies last five games against the Dodgers and 5-1 in Philadelphia’s last six games at home.
Nola will have to battle a pretty good Dodgers lineup. That lineup scores an average of 5.21 runs per game, which is second in MLB just behind Houston. The production has come from 1B Max Muncy (.275, 22 HR, 64 RBI) and 3B Justin Turner (.289, 20 HR, 66 RBI). Newly acquired Trea Turner is taking over the leadoff role. Former NL MVP Cody Bellinger has only played 53 games and SS Corey Seager, a former NL Rookie of the Year like Bellinger, has managed to play in just 45.
Still, the Dodgers find ways to win. They aren’t winning enough to gain any ground on NL West leader San Francisco. LA remains four games behind the Giants in the division race. The Dodgers are 31-25 on the road this season, but this may be a great opportunity to capitalize on a hot underdog.
The issue with finding favor with Philly is that their eight straight wins were over Pittsburgh, Washington, and the slumping New York Mets who have lost seven of their last eight games. Plus, when Scherzer exits tonight’s game, the Dodgers will turn to a bullpen that ranks seventh in FIP (3.88) in the majors.