Yesterday I sat down virtually to discuss the upcoming Dodgers/Phillies series with thatballsouttahere’s Emily Gruver. Since I don’t know much of what is going on with the Phillies these days, Emily was here to shed some light.
We discussed the pitching match-ups, and some of the storylines for the upcoming three game series at Citizen Bank Park. Here are some of the questions Emily asked me and my answers. In return I asked her some questions as well. So here is our latest version of conversation with the enemy, the liberty bell edition.
How important is it for the Dodgers to finish out this long road trip strong against a struggling Phillies team?
LL: Well it’s pretty important. But I think it’s more important for the Dodgers to just start winning series, more than anything. They’ve been playing better on the road than at home, so I’m hoping they can finish off this trip with a winning record. Coming home with two straight series wins would do wonders for their confidence
Clayton Kershaw has been a disaster this year; what’s going on with him?
LL: He hasn’t been a disaster at all. There is nothing wrong with him. He’s only made two starts since coming off the disabled list. Remember he had the sore Teres major muscle in his back that sidelined him for a month. He only had made one start so basically he hasn’t pitched much if at all this year. He had one bad start. They all have them. Kershaw is the best pitcher in Baseball, and quite possibly the greatest pitcher of our generation. I don’t worry about Kershaw at all. He’ll be fine.
Can you provide a brief scouting report on the scheduled (pitching) starters for the Dodgers?
LL: Sure. Well Friday the Phillies will face Kershaw. He’s coming off his worst outing of the year so look for him to rebound. He had been working on developing his changeup in spring training before he got hurt. If he can develop that, then wooooo boy watch out National League. Kershaw has a lot of weapons in his arsenal, but adding a devastating changeup to go along with his other excellent pitches would be deadly.
On Saturday should be right hander Dan Haren. The Dodgers picked him up via free agency. He had a tough time in Washington. But he pitched much better in the second half of last year. This year he’s been very solid, with a 3.18 ERA and low low walk rate. He’s a control guy, and rarely ever walks anyone. Only nine walks this year and a career walk rate of 1.9. He has a pause in his delivery which can allow him to fool hitters.
Sunday should be veteran Josh Beckett. Beckett was battling Thoracic outlet syndrome, and a bruised thumb which he slammed into a clubhouse door in spring training. He’s recovered just fine from those injuries, and appears healthier than ever before, What we’re seeing as a result is Beckett returning to the dominating form he was before. He may not be as effective as he once was. He doesn’t have the velocity that he used to have as a youngster. So he’s had to rely on his wits to get hitters out. He’s transformed from a flamethrower to more of a finesse pitcher. And he’s been very strong this year. (46 whiffs in 46 innings, 2.89 ERA, and only 37 hits allowed) He also has had the slow curve working this year too, so look out for that.
Who will be the x-factor for the Dodgers in this series? Who do the Phillies need to focus on and worry about?
LL: Well if I were the Phillies, I would not be pitching to Yasiel Puig. The guy is on another planet now. He’s more focused and polished than ever before. He’s drawing more walks, and is blazing hot right now. Everything he hits is a line drive. He’s very exciting to watch. If the Phillies pitch to him than, it’s their funeral. If the Phillies want to beat the Dodgers then they may have to wait until the bullpen comes in. The Dodger bullpen has been a weak area all season long.
Prediction for the series?
I’m hoping the Dodgers can take two out of three, and I don’t think that’s asking too much. The club is starting to play better. But you know the Dodger’s weaknesses this year have been relief pitching, sloppy defense, and a weak bench. But the bullpen seems to be stabilizing after a rough start. Thanks in large part to a couple of much needed days off. The Defense has been a bit better too of late, and the bats have really started to perk up.
Prediction- Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez put another crack in the liberty bell
LL: So what’s going on with Cliff Lee? Will he need tommy John surgery?
The Phillies placed Cliff Lee on the 15-day DL with a left elbow strain, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is uncertain as to when he will return. As of right now, there is no timetable.
LL: What’s the state of the Philadelphia roster right now?
Well, it’s pretty interesting because manager Ryne Sandberg changes up the lineup everyday. With there consistently being injuries, it seems as though every week there’s a new shake up in the roster. Right now, the team needs to find consistency.
LL: Do you think the Phillies would trade Rollins or Howard if they are out of contention in July?
I highly doubt they will trade Jimmy Rollins; he has been playing some outstanding baseball as of late. I would love for the Phillies to examine their trade possibilities with Howard but I don’t see anyone trading for him either because of his massive contract and his inconsistency.
Thank you Emily for taking the time to answer our questions and talk Baseball with us. You can follow Emily here twitter.com/EmilyGruver3. Don’t forget to also follow That Balls Outta here on twitter here twitter.com/FS_TBOH, for all the latest Phillie’s news. We’ll see you on the battlefield tonight! The Dodgers begin a three game series against the Phillies in the city of brotherly love Friday night at 4:10 PM.