Dodgers face the always-tough Cliff Lee in opener with Phillies

USA TODAY Sports

Since 2008, Cliff Lee's 139 ERA+ is second in baseball among pitchers with 600 innings to Clayton Kershaw (146), and Lee's 6.19 strikeout-to-walk ratio is first by a mile.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers continue their 10-game homestand with a four-game series against the Phillies at Dodger Stadium, and while many of the same cast of characters remain from the back-to-back NLCS matchups of 2008-2009 this year's version is a far cry from those Philadelphia teams.

From 2008-2011, all division-winning years for the Phillies, the Dodgers were 13-24 against Philadelphia including a pair of five-game NLCS losses. But the Dodgers are 10-4 against the Phillies in the last two seasons, winning five of seven meetings in both 2012 and 2013.

I wouldn't characterize the Phillies as a bad team, but rather stuck in baseball purgatory. After two years of non-contention they sit at 8-10, and even if everything were to break right for them they still have to contend with the Braves and the Nationals in the National League East.

The Phillies are averaging 4.17 runs per game, but went four straight games last week without an extra-base hit, including the last two at Coors Field. Philadelphia scored three total runs in those four games before busting out with seven extra-base hits and 10 runs on Sunday in Denver.

But two main reasons the Phillies would have any hope of contention are a pair of left-handers that will start the first three games of this series against the Dodgers. Cole Hamels will make his 2014 season debut on Wednesday, but Cliff Lee gets the opener on Monday night.

Lee might have a 4.00 ERA but thus far has allowed only two home runs in 27 innings and in vintage Lee fashion has 28 strikeouts against just two walks.

The Dodgers scored three runs against Lee in each of their two wins last year, which was a relative offensive bonanza after he allowed them just four runs in 46 innings in his six previous starts against them, including the playoffs. Lee has never pitched fewer than seven innings in a start against the Dodgers, and owns a 1.48 ERA against them with 65 strikeouts and 10 walks.

The Dodgers have managed to win the last four of those Lee starts, thanks to the Phillies scoring seven total runs.

Expect the all right-handed outfield to start against the southpaw Lee, though none of the five outfielders have had any success against him. Carl Crawford is 8-for-40 with a triple (.200/.200/.250) against Lee, which makes Crawford the relative Babe Ruth of the outfield. Matt Kemp is 1-for-18 (.056/.105/.056) with a walk and 11 strikeouts, Andre Ethier is 0-for-11 with a walk and five strikeouts, Yasiel Puig is 1-for-7 (.143) and Scott Van Slyke is 0-for-5 with a walk and three strikeouts.

Justin Turner has started against every left-hander so far this season, but is 1-for-17 (.059) with a walk and four strikeouts against Lee. Dee Gordon is 2-for-7 (.286) with two strikeouts.

Adrian Gonzalez is 11-for-22 with three doubles and a home run (.500/.522/.773) against Lee, while Hanley Ramirez is 8-for-16 with three home runs and three doubles (.500/.500/1.250).

Paul Maholm gets the start for the Dodgers in Monday's opener. He was 1-1 with a 3.06 ERA in three starts against the Phillies in 2013, with Atlanta, with 15 strikeouts and four walks in 17⅔ innings.

Audio preview

I sat down with Corey Seidman for Phillies Today to preview the four-game series.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA

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