Phillies vs Dodgers series preview: The gang heads to Hollywood

Phillies Mariners Baseball
Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins, right, is greeted by Bryce Harper, center, at the plate after Hoskins hit a grand slam against the Seattle Mariners to score Harper during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Phillies will head to their second and final stop on their first west coast trip. The Phillies took two games to win their series in Seattle, their third series win of the season. The Phils sit with a 14-17 record and will need to continue to work if they want to break the .500 mark.

Their opponents in this four-game series will be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are coming off a series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Dodgers have struggled this season against bad teams. Not to say the Phillies are a bad team, but they certainly haven’t played like a good one. To be successful on this road trip the Phillies will at least need to split this four-game set with LA. A series win would be huge for the club as they will then head home to face the Padres.

Players To Watch For

Freddie Freeman:

The longtime Atlanta Brave has switched to a dark shade of blue, as Freddie Freeman inked a contract with the Dodgers this season. Freeman was a notorious “Phillie Killer” and Freddie has been an absolute menace against the Phils. For his career, Freddie is hitting .298 against the Phillies with 30 home runs and 120 runs batted in across 194 games. Expect Freeman to be successful yet again in this series.

Bryce Harper

The reigning MVP is a West Coast kid and the Nevada native will be close to home for these four games against the Dodgers. Bryce had a fantastic series against the Mariners and typically plays well on the West Coast. Harper will continue to swing a hot bat in LA and he will need to in order to help the Philies take down the Dodgers.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

Zack Wheeler (1-3, 4.10 ERA) vs Tyler Anderson (3-0, 2.78)

After missing his last start due to a stint on the COVID IL, Zack Wheeler will return to the mound for game one against the Dodgers. Wheeler was downright brilliant in his last start, tossing 7.2 innings against the Rangers. It was Zack’s best outing this season and hopefully, the extra rest in between starts helps Wheeler, rather than hurt him. The Dodgers will easily be his toughest challenge thus far in 2022.

If you think that the name Tyler Anderson sounds familiar, it’s because it does. Anderson was the player the Phillies traded for last season at the deadline in a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates would back out of the deal at the last second, and ship Tyler off to Seattle instead. Anderson has been really successful with the Dodgers in 2022. The Phillies will need to tee off on the veteran lefty if they wish to get out to a strong start in this series.

Game 2:

Kyle Gibson (3-1, 2.94 ERA) vs Clayton Kershaw (4-0, 1.80 ERA)

The best move that Dave Dombrowski has made at the helm of the Phillies might just be acquiring Kyle Gibson. The Phillies added Gibson at the trade deadline last season and the addition of Kyle has been huge for this Phillies rotation in 2022. Kyle Gibson has been the Phillies’ best starter through the first part of the season. Gibson has put the Phillies in a position to win each game he toes the rubber. This matchup against the Dodgers lineup is not a favorable one for Kyle, as he relies on contact to make most of his outs. Careful pitch selection and location will be needed to take down the powerful Dodgers lineup.

Clayton Kershaw has turned back the clock. After some years of injury and decline, Clayton has returned to the Cy Young caliber ace he always has been. The future Hall of Famer has a 1.80 earned run average this season and his best start was against the Minnesota Twins when he pitched 7 perfect innings. The Phillies’ lefties are going to struggle if Kershaw has his best stuff, and the Phillies have to take advantage when they can on Friday night.

Game 3:

Ranger Suarez (3-1, 3.68 ERA) vs Walker Buehler (4-1, 1.96)

Like the rest of the Phillies’ starting rotation, Ranger Suarez has gotten better each time he has taken the mound. Ranger blanked the Mariners on Monday and had his best outing of the season. Suarez pitches a very similar style to Kyle Gibson, where they rely on weak contact to get opposing hitters out. Ranger will have to be careful against this Dodger lineup that can ruin any pitcher’s confidence.

Walker Buehler is one of the best arms in the game today. Buehler has learned behind Clayton Kershaw and many other great veterans during his time in LA. Walker has taken over the role as the team ace and has backed it up this season. Buehler has allowed just one run in his last twenty-one innings of work. Hopefully, for the Phillies, this means that Buehler is due to allow some runs. If Walker Buehler is on his A-game, the Phillies are going to be in for a long night.

Game 4:

Aaron Nola (1-4, 3.83 ERA) vs Julio Urias (2-2, 2.10 ERA)

The one and four record for Aaron Nola doesn’t speak to how solid he has been for the Phillies this season. While Nola hasn’t returned to his former Cy Young caliber self, he has re-established himself as the true number two in the Phillies rotation. Nola has looked good in his past few outings and some unfortunate defense from himself and his teammates cost the club the game on Tuesday against Seattle. Aaron’s start will be huge on Sunday because he will either have the chance to win the series, even the series or help the Phillies avoid an awful showing against LA. The Phils need Aaron to have his best against the Dodgers.

Julio Urias will be the third lefty starter for the Dodgers in this series. The Phillies’ lefty batters such as Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, are going to have their work cut out for them. Urias is another young and brilliant arm in today’s game. His role in the 2020 World Series championship run for LA was huge in winning the title. Julio has a powerful arm and can easily frustrate his opponents. There is no easy pitching matchup for the Phillies in this series, however, if they can work counts and rise Urias’s pitch count, the Phils can be successful.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren