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2017 Series Preview

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (11-9) at Los Angeles Dodgers (11-12), April 28-30

Another two games played this week, another two wins for the Fighins’. The Phils handled the Marlins rather convincingly, to extend its winning streak to six, with strong pitching efforts from Vince Velasquez and Jeremy Hellickson. Michael Saunders’ impact has been felt over the last week or so. He’s hitting .320 in his last eight games, slammed his first home run as a Phillie on Wednesday night, and avoided a tag at the plate with a tremendous slide that was ultimately the difference in a 3-2 Phillies win on Thursday.

What to expect

The Phillies are off to their best 20-game start since 2011 and flying into Los Angeles with their confidence at an all-time high. It’s so easy to be reeled in, but I won’t fall victim to it this time. Dodger Stadium hasn’t been friendly to the Phils, as they’ve just won five of 14 games in LA since 2013. Taking a young team out west is no easy task, especially against a playoff caliber Dodgers squad.

Corey Seager, fresh off his Rookie of the Year 2016, comes into this series as the unquestioned leader of the Dodgers. The 23-year-old is hitting .308 with five home runs and 17 RBI. After 45 home runs between Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner a year ago, neither has gone yard this season. That could spell trouble for the Phils as it’s tough to keep those two off the scoreboard for long.

Chase Utley is hitting just .088 in 34 at-bats. The Phillies will miss Joc Pederson, who was placed on the disabled list with groin tightness.

Temper the expectations for this road trip.

Probable Starters:

Friday at 10:10 p.m., Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05 ERA)

In four starts this season, Jerad Eickhoff has received just three runs of support while on the mound. He’s been so unlucky, that in his last outing against Atlanta, where he received zero runs of support, the Phils scored two runs as soon as Eickhoff departed. It’s a shame when the lack of run support dominates the talk over a pitcher’s performance. Maeda has surrendered at least four runs in his last three starts. Opponents are hitting .316 off the right-hander.

Saturday at 9:10 p.m., Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25 ERA)

What a difference surgery can make. Eflin’s season concluded prematurely last season in LA, when the right-hander tossed just three innings while surrendering seven runs on seven hits. Eflin has come out guns a blazin’ in place of Clay Buchholz. McCarthy, who stands an inch taller than Eflin at six-feet, seven-inches, is making his way back from Tommy John surgery that shortened his last two seasons. McCarthy has pitched 24 innings and allowed just 18 hits — good enough for a 1.08 WHIP.

Sunday at 4:10 p.m., Nick Pivetta (ML Debut) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4, 4.64 ERA)

Due to Mother Nature, Nick Pivetta’s major league debut was pushed back four days, and will start Sunday. Pivetta has done nothing but dazzle in the Phils system since he was acquired for Jonathan Papelbon back in 2015. In 19 innings pitched at Lehigh Valley this season, the right-hander’s ERA is 0.95. Ryu, who has been average at best this season, struggles against left-handed hitters as they’re hitting .345 off the left-handed pitcher, oddly enough. Ryu is also prone to the longball, allowing six home runs in his four starts.

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