The Dodgers’ best hitter homered and doubled on Wednesday night to back the club’s best pitcher, with Matt Kemp and Ross Stripling the key culprits in an 8-2 win over the Phillies at Dodger Stadium.
Kemp doubled home Joc Pederson in the first inning, then hit a two-run home run in the third inning to pace the offense, continuing a renaissance season for the outfielder. Kemp is hitting .345/.374/.554 this season, now leading the National League in batting average.
That Kemp’s two extra-base hits came against Zach Eflin, who was part of the Dodgers’ original trade of Kemp to San Diego, is purely a footnote but adds a nice wrinkle to the night.
Kemp added a sacrifice fly in the eighth and drove in four runs on the night, giving him a team-leading 30 RBI on the season.
When Kemp was reacquired by the Dodgers in December, that trade was much more about accounting than actual baseball, with the club maneuvering under the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold for 2018. Kemp was discussed more as a contract than a baseball player, but now he is providing tangible value that the Dodgers have sorely needed.
By FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, Kemp is the top position player on the team at the moment*, at 1.4 WAR. Stripling is the top Dodgers pitcher by that measure, at 1.6 WAR.
*tied with Yasmani Grandal, who singled and walked twice Wednesday.
Stripling continued his brilliance on the mound, allowing just a run on four hits and two walks in his seven innings. He struck out nine, giving him 35 strikeouts over his last four outings. The four best strikeout games of Stripling’s career have been his last four starts.
That’s good for a minuscule 1.20 ERA in May and a 1.68 ERA on the season, the latter in 48⅓ innings. Not bad for someone who started the season seventh on the rotation depth chart and has been used in multiple roles, with six starts and 11 relief appearances under his belt in 2018.
Stripling also had his first hit of the season, and RBI single in a two-run fifth.
Kemp’s home run was his seventh of the season, tied for third on the Dodgers with Max Muncy, who homered earlier in the inning. Muncy (.537) and Kemp (.554) are the two Dodgers with slugging percentages above .471 in 2018.
The Dodgers will get Clayton Kershaw back for the series finale on Thursday, his first start in 30 days. Aaron Nola is on the mound for the Phillies in an early, 4:35 p.m. PT start.
Home runs: Max Muncy (7), Matt Kemp (7); Nick Williams (6)
WP - Ross Stripling (2-1): 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
LP - Zach Eflin (1-2): 4 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts