2017 Series Preview

Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers (96-53) at Philadelphia Phillies (58-91), Sept. 18-21

dodgers_logo.jpgIt’s certainly been more fun watching the Phillies lately, but they’re going to play second fiddle this week as one of Philadelphia’s most beloved athletes ever makes his return to Citizens Bank Park for the first time this year.

Welcome back, Chase.

In the time leading up to tonight’s game, and during the game itself, you’re going to see dozens of Chase Utley highlights of his Phillie career, so let’s not pile on that bandwagon.

Instead, here are three of my favorite Chase Utley moments that didn’t necessarily have to do with baseball:

  1. Explaining his “world effing champions” remark to elementary school kids by saying when they win the World Series, they can use that word too.
  2. Telling the New York fans “eff you” when he was booed for no earthly reason at the 2008 All-Star Game.
  3. His belated, but heartfelt, response to a South Philly kid who just wanted to be friends:

Here’s to hoping our relationship with Chase this week is a real hoooooome run.

WHAT TO EXPECT

The Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball, and a month ago, there was talk about them setting the all-time wins record. A 1-17 (???) stretch ended that, but let’s just say they’re still a touch better than the Phils. If the Dodgers sweep the series, they’d notch their 100th win of the year and force the Phillies to go 5-4 over their last nine to avoid losing 100 games. Yikes. Let’s just sit back and enjoy Chase for a week, shall we?

PROBABLE  STARTERS

Monday, 7:05 p.m., Clayton Kershaw (17-3, 2.12 ERA) vs. Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.75 ERA)

Oh, no big deal Nick. Just hold your own against perhaps the best pitcher of the last decade. Cripes. Let’s just move on.

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m., Yu Darvish (9-12, 4.08 ERA) vs. Aaron Nola (11-10, 3.60)

When did statistics for guys who changed leagues in the middle of the year not reset? I totally missed that. Was it with the advent of interleague play? I feel like I should have known this happened. Anyway, the Aaron Nola train keeps chugging, coming off what was probably his best start of 2017. You had to be a little bit worried he was hitting that wall he keeps hitting at the end of seasons, but his last start hopefully proved he isn’t. Of all the good things that can happen for the Phils in these last couple weeks, Nola finishing strong might be the most important for 2018 momentum.

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m., Alex Wood (15-3, 2.69 ERA) vs. Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.46 ERA)

Biggest surprise to me in writing this story: Thompson’s ERA is only 4.46. I would have guessed in the 6 range. His FIP is 5.91, so that makes a little more sense, but still, it feels like he gets shelled every time out. He went 5.1 scoreless last Thursday, but with six hits and four walks, so I guess it just seemed like he was getting knocked around. There will have to be some serious talks about Thompson in the offseason.

Thursday, 1:05, Kenta Maeda (12-6, 4.21 ERA) vs. Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.93)

Maeda is sneaky valuable, striking out more than a batter an inning and holding on to a 1.13 WHIP. He’s not a world-beater, but he doesn’t have to be. He’ll probably come out of the bullpen in the playoffs, losing out to Rich Hill for the fourth starter spot if the Dodgers even choose to go with four starters. So to recap, the Dodgers fifth starter has a WHIP of 1.13 and has struck out 134 batters in 128.1 innings. The Phillies’ current fifth starter played most of the year in the Atlantic League, and Mark Leiter Jr. is the No. 4 starter. I … I just can’t.

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