The struggling Los Angeles Dodgers have seen their lead shrink in the National League West heading into a tough four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers (33-21) have dropped six of their last seven games while the San Francisco Giants have won three in a row and six of seven to pull within three games of the division lead. The Phillies (28-27) have also beaten LA in seven of the past eight meetings, making Monday’s series opener even more important.
Fortunately for the Dodgers, they will be sending their ace Clayton Kershaw (4-3, 2.42 ERA) to the mound in an effort to get back on track. Unfortunately, Kershaw is 0-4 lifetime against the Phillies in six starts with an inflated 5.18 ERA. He is also coming off one of his worst starts of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers at home last Wednesday in which he tied a season high by surrendering five runs and walked a season-high four batters.
Kershaw has lost his last two starts at Dodger Stadium, so maybe getting away from there will help him clear his mind and win for the first time since May 19. He has not pitched away from home since May 2 against the Colorado Rockies, who also scored five runs off him in 7.1 innings of an eventual 8-5 victory. The southpaw did not get the decision against the Rockies and pitched seven scoreless innings against the Houston Astros in his only other previous road start this year.
As for Philadelphia, third-year pitcher Vance Worley (3-2, 3.07) will toe the rubber and make his first start since going on the disabled list due to elbow inflammation on May 12. Worley is taking Roy Halladay’s spot in the rotation after he went down with a strained shoulder. The former Long Beach State standout has faced Los Angeles just once during his career, giving up six runs in four innings of a 9-8 victory last August 10. Worley has pitched more than six innings only twice in seven starts this season, allowing eight runs and 17 hits in 12 innings over his past two outings with four walks and 13 strikeouts.
The Phillies as a team just dropped two of three at home to the Miami Marlins but are just 3.5 games back of the lead in the NL East. They lost the last two games to the Marlins on Saturday and Sunday, scoring a total of five runs after averaging 6.75 in winning three of their previous four. Philadelphia is getting Kershaw at a good time and will have a solid pitcher on the hill in Worley at a good underdog price.
Free Baseball Pick: Philadelphia Phillies +110