The National League is heating up as the first-place Philadelphia Phillies take on the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series with pivotal implications for both clubs (Game 1: 7:05 PM ET Tuesday).
With a record at two games under the .500 mark and a division race seemingly slipping from their grasps, the Phillies entered their final game of a three-game series against the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates in desperate need of a win. The Phillies, having lost the first two games of that series, had already guaranteed they’d lose the set, but they knew they needed to avoid a sweep at all costs.
So on August 1, a day after the trade deadline had seen the Phillies opt to be buyers not sellers, Philadelphia defeated the Pirates with an offensive outburst and a final score of 15-4. New Phillies deadline acquisition, Kyle Gibson, was the pitcher of record in the win. Since then, the Phillies haven’t dropped a single game. Their eight-game winning streak is the franchise’s longest since 2012. The best streak in nine years couldn’t have come at a better time either as the Phillies went from ending July down 4.5 games to settling into August up 2.5 games in the NL East.
The Dodgers are absolutely encountering a team on fire and one that plays much better in the home confines of Citizen’s Bank Park. Granted, all teams play better at home, but for the Phillies, it’s worth noting that one player in particular has had a much better stretch away from the road. That would be game one starter, Aaron Nola, whose up and down season has featured pitching splits of a 5.56 ERA on the road but a 3.18 at home. Needless to say, Nola has been a much different pitcher at home versus on the road this year, which is something that bodes well for the Phillies in this Game 1 matchup.
Something else that bodes well is the fact that the Phillies are the hottest team in baseball and are just tearing the cover off. Since starting their winning streak, the Phillies have scored no fewer than three runs in a single of those eight games. They have scored 55 runs in that span, while only surrendering 29 runs. Another notable number from the Phillies winning streak is that of the extra base hits. Philadelphia has 40 extra base hits over their last eight games (2 triples, 16 home runs, and 22 doubles), including one game where they notched nine doubles. No team in baseball has hit the baseball for as many total bases as the Phillies have since the beginning of August.
New Look Dodgers Keep Rolling
Perhaps no team made a bigger trade deadline splash than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who swooped in and stole the pair of Trea Turner and Max Scherzer from their rival San Diego Padres. The Padres have scuffled a bit as of late, but their loss was clearly LA’s gain.
Following a stint on the COVID IL, Turner just recently made his debut for the team, going 2-for-8 with three runs scored.
Turner is likely to get back to form sooner rather than later but even still, he is a great asset and a much-improved shortstop for the Dodgers. On the year, Turner is hitting .321, which puts him among the NL leaders. He also has recorded at least one hit in 38 of his last 48 games played. Turner is an X-Factor and he now joins a team that was already full of them.
Then there is Scherzer, who the Dodgers will send to the mound opposite Nola for this Tuesday night game. The Phillies are no stranger to Scherzer, having spent the last seven years facing him when he was a member of the Washington Nationals. It has been a mixed bag for Philadelphia’s hitters against Scherzer. Odubel Herrera has hit .308 against the new Dodgers’ righty in 39 at bats while former Miami Marlin JT Realmuto has spent 40 career at bats struggling (.100) against Scherzer. In 10 at bats against his former teammates, Bryce Harper is hitting .300 but Rhys Hoskins has failed to put the bat on ball when Scherzer pitches (.043 in 23 at bats).
Of Phillies’ hitters, Brad Miller, who will be starting for the injured Hoskins most likely, has the best numbers against Scherzer, cruising to a .364 average and six RBI in just 11 at bats. That all said, on the year, there is no team Scherzer has pitched better against than his former division rival. In three starts, Scherzer has just a 1.45 ERA against the Phillies, giving up just 10 hits and two earned runs in 18.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, he has struck out 22 Phillies, more than he has against any other single team this year.
Additionally, Scherzer has made all his starts against the Phillies on the road. In fact, his three starts at Citizen’s Bank Park are the most he has made at any stadium this year, outside of his former home of Nationals Park. Scherzer only had two wins in front of the Nats’ faithful, whereas he is a perfect 3-0 against the Phillies.
Despite being 37, Scherzer is having one of the best years of his already future Hall of Fame career. Scherzer has a career ERA of 3.19 with a mark of 2.75 this year, which is good enough for eighth best in the NL. His WHIP of 0.89 is second best. Scherzer’s first start in Dodger Blue was more of the same as he tossed seven innings, giving up just two runs while striking out 10 and walking one.
Our Preview’s LA Dodgers vs Philadelphia Phillies Predictions & Betting Picks Conclusion
It seems Scherzer really has Philadelphia’s number this year and the way he has pitched at CBP has to be concerning as the Phillies look for their MLB best ninth straight win in a row. For the Phillies, Nola has certainly been uneven at best this year. While better at home (his last start at CBP saw him give up just four hits and one run in 8.2 innings), and better in July than he had been, Nola’s last start saw him give up five earned in just five innings pitched.
The Phillies never really know which Nola they’ll get but fortunately for them, a complete game by Zach Wheeler on Sunday coupled with an off day on Monday, makes it so the bullpen is fresh should Nola need an early exit. If the Phillies expect to win this game however, an early exit by their struggling ace won’t be in the cards.
This is going to be a huge measuring stick game for the Phillies. Right now, they lead the NL East, but that is arguably baseball’s worst division from top-to-bottom. The Dodgers on the other hand, play in one of MLB’s best. It’s time for the Phillies to learn if they are good or just NL East good.
So, coming to the Dodgers vs Phillies predictions for this MLB Game 1 preview, these are the betting picks we advise:
- Take Phillies +1.5 on the spread @ odds of -117 with BetOnline or MyBookie. It is -120 with Bovada.
- On the runline, go over 8.5 @ betting odds of -110 with MyBookie or BetOnline. It is -115 with Bovada.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.