Phillies (28-27) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (33-21)
7:05 p.m. on CSN
Vance Worley makes his return to the Phillies tonight after missing four starts with an elbow injury. Worley explained last week that the pain in his throwing elbow wont get better or worse as the season goes on.
Worley was 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA prior to hitting the 15-day DL on May 16. He struggled in his last two starts, allowing eight runs in 12 innings to raise his ERA from 1.97.
Worley has faced the Dodgers one time. He gave up six runs on seven hits over four innings against Los Angeles last August in a game the Phillies rallied back from down 6-0 to win 9-8.
The Phillies face Clayton Kershaw; theyve actually beaten the Dodgers the last five times Kershaw has pitched. But as explained here, the Phils have never seen this version of Kershaw.
Expect Worley to be on a pitch count. He threw two bullpen sessions but didnt make a single rehab start. An educated guess would be 80-90 pitches if no stress, or less if hes under duress.
No Matt Kemp
The early-season MVP candidate missed 14 games in May with a hamstring injury, then returned for two games only to suffer a separate hamstring injury. Hes believed to be out for four weeks. The Dodgers have played relatively well in his absence but its just a completely different offense without Kemp.
Kemp has 28 runs and 30 RBIs despite missing 18 games. Only one Phillie (Hunter Pence) has more runs and two Phillies (Pence, Carlos Ruiz) have more RBIs.
Losses Saturday and Sunday dropped the Phils to 28-27 on the season, but theyre still only 3 games back in the intriguingly competitive NL East. The Nationals, Mets and Marlins are currently in a three-way tie for first place and the Braves are two back. This is both good and bad for the Roy Halladay-Ryan Howard-Chase Utley-less Phillie no team is running away from the back but there are simply more teams that need to be leapfrogged.
At 33-21, the Dodgers have the best record in baseball. Theyre on pace to go 99-63.
Note of interest
Including two National League Division Series meetings, the Phillies are 20-8 in their last 28 games with the Dodgers and 12-4 in the last 16 meetings at Citizens Bank Park.
Shane Victorino vs. Kershaw: Victorino has hit lefties extremely well again this season, batting .349 with two more homers righthanded than he has lefthanded, in 140 fewer plate appearances.
A nicked up Victorino (hand) needs to get going. He had a nice run from May 19-24, when he was 12 for 23. Since then, though, hes 2 for 23.
Worley vs. Andre Ethier: Ethier has carried the Dodgers with Kemp out. Hes batting .320 on the season with nine home runs and an NL-leading 46 RBIs. Hes second in baseball behind Josh Hamilton.
Do you expect the Dodgers to fade at all during Kemps second absence? Can the Phillies win this four-game series?
E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com