While the Phillies have been unfortunately sweep-averse, they have won four straight series. They’ll try to continue that run of strong play as they head to LA to take on an always dangerous Dodgers team. But the advantage might be theirs, since this series may feature the return of a certain MVP winner.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 16-13, First place in National League West (Tied with Arizona)
Despite 2022 being another 100+ win season that ended in a playoff flameout, Dave Roberts is back for his eighth season with the team. I suppose the World Series they won in 2020 bought him some grace, even though there’s some question as to how legitimate that title was.
he is carried by talent when he actually has to manage he doesn't know what he's doing— Sachiko ⚖️ (@SACHIK0___) April 21, 2023
The last time they met
After the Phillies took three of four in Los Angeles in May 2022, the Dodgers visited Philadelphia a week later and took the first two. The Phillies avoided the sweep thanks to a game-tying hit by Jean Segura in the ninth and a two-run Dodgers error in the tenth.
What’s the deal with the Dodgers?
The Dodgers appear to have found their groove, having won seven of their last ten and just completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals over the weekend. Normally, you might think of tough pitching matchups when you face the Dodgers, but in this series, the Phillies are expected to face Tony Gonsolin (making only his second start of the season and probably isn’t fully stretched out yet), Julio Urias (been knocked around in his last two starts), and Gavin Stone (making his MLB debut).
That’s not to say those guys won’t pitch well, or the Phillies won’t do that thing where they refuse to get hits with runners in scoring position, but this isn’t the same murderers’ row of pitching that we have seen in past seasons.
Julio Urias why do you suck rn— Drew B (@drew_bordo) April 27, 2023
But enough about the Dodgers, let’s talk about Bryce Harper!
After undergoing offseason surgery, conservative estimates had Bryce Harper returning to the active roster around the All-Star break. The most optimistic predictions thought he might make it back sometime in June. But here we are on the first day of May, and Harper might somehow be back in action this week!
Bryce Harper's follow-up appointment is tomorrow. If he's cleared, he could be in the Phillies' lineup as soon as Tuesday.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) April 30, 2023
Would he be disappointed at this point if he's not cleared tomorrow?
"Yeah," Rob Thomson said. "Me, too." https://t.co/44L1Vbthuz
How is this possible? I realize he’s in the top 1% of athletic humans on the planet, but this seems to be stretching the plausibility of what a human being can do.
My concern is that it might take Harper some time to find his groove. It’s easy to forget in light of his postseason heroics, but after returning from a hand injury in 2022, he didn’t hit very well down the stretch. My prediction is that adrenaline carries him through his first few games back, but we might be in for a shaky stretch after that. I know there’s a minimal chance of it happening, but it might be a good idea to not immediately place him in the middle of the order.
The Dodgers as an MCU villain
Just as the immensely powerful Dormammu got caught in an endless time-loop from which he could not escape, the Dodgers appear to be stuck in an endless loop of losing to seemingly inferior opponents every year in the playoffs.
Dormammu, I have come to bargain pic.twitter.com/BXqobFxPB9— History of the MCU (@history0fthemcu) August 9, 2022
Last series’ answer: Aaron Altherr holds the Phillies’ record with four career home runs against the Mariners, thanks to a red-hot performance against them in 2017. SLDH got it right.
This series’ question: Over the past ten seasons, only one Phillies has had a multi-home run game at Dodger Stadium. Who was he?
I wish I could feel optimistic about the Sixers’ chances against the Celtics. But the Celtics are a poor matchup for them even at full strength, and with Joel Embiid’s status in question, they are decidedly not at full strength. Maybe Embiid comes back sooner and in better shape than expected, or maybe James Harden can rediscover how to be an elite offensive player, or maybe Doc Rivers turns in the coaching performance of his life (I’m really grasping here), but it’s difficult to predict a Sixers win here.
The Phillies have been playing winning baseball over the past two weeks and it isn’t a coincidence that they have the lowest bullpen ERA and highest WAR across baseball during that span. In the modern game, having multiple solid end-of-game relief options is a necessity, and the Phillies appear to have that right now.