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Full season blues: Phillies vs. Dodgers series preview

Can the Dodgers win it all in a full season? History says no.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Seattle Mariners
A big series by Rhys Hoskins may be the Phillies’ only hope for success
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

This preview is going to talk about the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t won a World Series in a full 162-game season since 1988, a span of 31 seasons. If that fact upsets you, then I suggest you stop reading right now. (Am I saying that because Dodgers fans have shown a tendency to be easily triggered by such talk? Yes, I am.)

After a successful series in Seattle, the Phillies stay out West (but much further South) to take on the Dodgers. The Dodgers have been very good in the regular season over the past several years. They look to be very good again this season. But that doesn’t mean we should concede the series. After all, the Dodgers just lost a series to a far inferior opponent, and the player who is apparently the fulcrum of the Phillies’ offense has begun to heat up.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 20-9 (First place in National League West)

The last time they met

The Dodgers came to Philadelphia for a three-game series last August and won the first two games. The Phillies pulled out the finale thanks to 4.2 scoreless innings by the bullpen and a home run by Bryce Harper.

What’s the deal with the Dodgers?

The Dodgers are off to a strong start as is their wont. They’ve got the best record in the National League, but winning in the regular season has never been the Dodgers’ problem.

It should be noted that winning in the regular season was a problem when they faced the Pittsburgh Pirates this week. The Dodgers lost two out of three to the 13-17 Pirates.

Who’s cold?

Justin Turner has made two All-Star games in his career, including last year. But it doesn’t appear as if he should count on making a return trip this season. He’s batting .200 on the season, and after hitting 27 home runs in 2021, he’s managed just one in 2021.

About that World Series thing

The MLB record books say that the Dodgers were the 2020 World Series champions. If Dodgers fans want to celebrate that accomplishment, then good for them. If the Phillies had won the 2020 World Series, I’d probably be wearing all sorts of championship merch right now.

But as we know, the 2020 season wasn’t a normal one. Instead of going through a 162 grind, teams only had to play 60 regular season games, and then the playoff field was all wacky because they let a lot more teams in than they normally do. Is that the same as winning the World Series in a regular year?

The Dodgers could have ended any “fluke” championship talk by winning in any other season besides 2020. For example, in 2021, they made the playoffs as a Wild Card team before bowing out in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves! A team that had been probably even worse than the Dodgers when it comes to losing in the playoffs.

Every year, the Dodgers throw a lot of money at this problem, and every year they still fall short. Mookie Betts didn’t fix the problem, and trading for Trea Turner and Max Scherzer didn’t result in a ring either. I guess the current hope is that Freddie Freeman will be the missing piece?

On the upswing?

The Phillies won a series for just the third time this season when they took two out of three from the Mariners (And had it not been for some bad luck, they could have swept). Can the Phillies sustain that success against the team with the best record in the NL?

Momentum in baseball is notoriously fickle, and a hot streak can quickly come to an end against a good opposing pitching staff. Unfortunately, the Dodgers have a really good pitching staff. The Phillies are scheduled to face the following starters over the next four days: Tyler Anderson (current ERA of 2.78), Clayton Kershaw (1.80), Walker Buehler (1.96), and Julio Urias (2.10). I’m not going to lie to you: That’s a tough week of matchups.

On the bright side, Rhys Hoskins appears to be on one of his hot streaks. In the past, when Hoskins gets hot, it often doesn’t matter who he’s facing. Crucially, those hot streaks have resulted in a huge boost to the Phillies’ offense. Considering the Phillies have spent a lot of money to bring in guys like Byrce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Nick Castellanos, the offense shouldn’t be that dependent of Hoskins, but it is what it is.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: The two future Phillies to play against the Phillies for the Mariners were Jean Segura and Nick Vincent. Segura was easy, but nobody was able to name the immortal Vincent.

This series’ question: Since the start of the 2012 season, what Phillie has accumulated the most base hits at Dodger Stadium?

Non-Phillies thought

Joel Embiid is undeniably a great player and should have been the NBA MVP. But it seems like every playoff series he’s played in, there’s been at least one game when he looks miserable, plays poorly, and as a result, the team sleepwalks through a brutal loss.

Maybe he was pouting over not winning the MVP, or maybe all of the injuries he’s dealing with have been too much, but Tuesday’s loss was ugly. And if you want to blame the injuries, the unfortunate truth is that Embiid is hurt in the playoffs every year.

The Sixers have changed coaches, gotten a new secondary star, and have turned over almost all of the supporting cast. While I will fully concede that the construction of that supporting cast has been an imperfect process, Embiid as the centerpiece has been the constant in all of the failures to make the conference finals.

Keep in mind, this is not a call to get rid of Embiid. Getting rid of a top five player is generally not a path to success in the NBA. But if they lose in the second round yet again, you have to wonder if an Embiid-led team simply has a ceiling.

Closing thought

With the Sixers season in danger of being over this week, the Phillies could go a long way towards capturing the city’s attention by winning a series against the Dodgers. Los Angeles hasn’t proven very hospitable for the Phillies in recent years (6-15 at Dodger Stadium since 2015) but maybe a series against a great pitching staff will cause the Phillies’ offense to step things up and start producing runs the way we expected when the season began.