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Dodgers set for first-place showdown with Phillies

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Manny Machado runner-up tour continues when the Dodgers open a three-game series Monday in Philadelphia. A battle of first-place teams that will feature two of the best pitching staffs in baseball for the month of July.

July Pitching

Split Dodgers Phillies
Split Dodgers Phillies
Starter ERA 2.76 (1st) 3.32 (2nd)
Bullpen ERA 2.54 (2nd) 2.53 (1st)

Having both played 17 games, the Dodgers have allowed just 50 runs (45 earned) while the Phillies have given up 59 (52 earned). The only other team to allow less the 60 this month is the Rockies, with 57 in 16 games.

The two teams split a four-game set in Los Angeles at the end of May that saw Clayton Kershaw come off the disabled list, only to be placed back on it the next day. Since that time, the Dodgers are a National League-best 29-14 and have taken over first place in the NL West.

Philadelphia recently climbed into first place themselves after hanging around the top of the NL East all year. Never more than 4.5-games out of first, the Phillies have spent over 60 percent of their season anywhere from two games back to first place.

Monday, 4:05 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)

Ross Stripling faced the Phillies back on May 30 at Dodger Stadium, giving up one run over seven innings in an 8-2 Dodgers win. That was the last time the right-hander walked two in a start, having only done that twice in 14 starts this season.

The Dodgers touched up Zach Eflin for five runs in that same game, in the only time the right-hander has allowed multiple homers this season. Matt Kemp and Max Muncy both homered for the Dodgers.

Eflin has been outstanding in seven starts since that day, going 6-0 with a 2.32 ERA. The Phillies placed Eflin on the 10-day DL after his start on July 9 with blister issues, but he didn’t miss much time due to the All-Star break.

Matchup Breakdown

2018 Splits Dodgers Phillies
2018 Splits Dodgers Phillies
Home/Road W-L 27-20 (Road) 32-17 (Home)
Run Differential plus-91 (T-5th) plus-21 (13th)
Runs per game 4.77 (8th) 4.38 (18th)
OPS+ 104 (T-6th) 90 (T-22nd)
wRC+ 106 (6th) 92 (T-20th)
ERA+ 114 (T-6th) 108 (T-10th)

Tuesday, 4:05 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA, MLB Network out-of-market only)

Kenta Maeda brings a four-start streak into Tuesday of at least nine strikeouts and two or less walks. Even with an injury-shortened start when he gave up two runs in 1 23 innings on May 29 against the Phillies, Maeda owns a 1.97 ERA over his last nine starts.

The Dodgers have the tall task of facing one of the best starters in baseball this season in Aaron Nola. The right-hander is 12-3 with a 2.30 ERA in 20 starts, and stifled the Dodgers back on May 31, allowing just one run on two hits and a walk in seven innings.

Wednesday, 9:35 a.m. PT (SportsNet LA, MLB Network out-of-market only)

Walker Buehler is expected to be recalled to make Wednesday’s start after throwing a simulated game Friday in Oklahoma City. The right-hander will look to get back in the swing of things after going between the Dodgers and minors over the last couple weeks after coming off the DL.

Buehler is 2-0 with a 4.29 ERA in four road starts in 2018.

Jake Arrieta has struggled a bit since he tossed seven shutout innings at Dodger Stadium May 29. Opponents have scored at least five runs in five of Arrieta’s last nine starts.

Batters to Watch

Yasmani Grandal is 16-for-38 (.421) in July and is 11-for-33 with four homers in 10 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

Matt Kemp has also been hit in July, hitting .373/.424/.627 with four homers and 15 RBI in 16 games (15 starts).

Nick Williams —who hit two homers against the Dodgers back in May — is hitting .321/.415/.482 with two homers in 65 plate appearances in July.