After salvaging the final game of their mid-week set against the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ road swing heads east for a weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies. First pitch of the opener Friday night is set for 7:05 p.m. ET from Citizens Bank Park. Michael Grove (0-2, 8.14 ERA) will get the ball for L.A. against Philly southpaw Ranger Suarez (1-2, 5.47).
This one is a true pick ‘em on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with both teams entering at -110. The run total is set at 9.5.
Dodgers-Phillies picks: Friday, June 9
Day to day: SS Miguel Rojas (neck)
Out: SP Noah Syndergaard (finger), OF Trayce Thompson (oblique), SP Julio Urias (hamstring), RP Phil Bickford (back), RP Tyler Cyr (shoulder), SP Dustin May (elbow), RP Daniel Hudson (knee), SP Ryan Pepiot (oblique), RP Jimmy Nelson (elbow)
Out: 1B/3B Alec Bohm (hamstring), OF Christian Pache (knee), 1B Darick Hall (thumb)
Michael Grove vs. Ranger Suarez
Grove’s season-long numbers are still ugly, but the righty is coming off arguably his best start of the season, striking out seven over five innings against the New York Yankees. Two homers led to four runs despite just four hits allowed, but it was still a real step forward nonetheless. Grove leaned even more heavily into his slider, throwing it almost 50% of the time, and that pitch is the key to his success — it carries a .222 batting average against and a whopping 40% whiff rate. If he’s keeping his hittable four-seamer out of the heart of the plate, the breaker could allow him to thrive again. (Of course, if he’s not, this Philly offense could put up a crooked number very quickly.)
Suarez is also coming off his best start of the year, spinning seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Washington Nationals. The lefty’s sinker is still earning tons of ground balls (his 53.1% ground ball rate is among the highest of any starter) but the real difference has been his curveball, which he’s now throwing nearly 20% of the time — a 13-point jump from last year. It’s easy to see why, as hitters are slugging a comical .095 against it, and it could be the key to helping him neutralize right-handed batters.
All of those reasons for optimism are well and good, but I’m still backing the over tonight. This Dodgers offense is a meat-grinder, with a 130 wRC+ over the last two weeks — a big reason why 13 of L.A.’s last 20 games have cleared this number. Philly’s bats have been more hot-and-cold, but they’re 10th in baseball in team OPS against righties this year, and while Grove took a step forward last weekend, I need to see him do it consistently before I fully buy in. The Dodgers have been cranking out 5-6 runs with regularity, and if they get there again, I think the over cashes. (It’s also worth noting that both of these bullpens have been awfully shaky as of late.)
Pick: Over 9.5
The back-end of the Dodgers bullpen certainly gives me pause here, as does Grove’s penchant for imploding on the mound, but I think the righty’s new slider-heavy approach should at least navigate five innings and give L.A.’s lineup a chance to make some noise. In a true pick ‘em, I have a little bit more trust in Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Co. than a Philly offense that has underwhelmed a bit so far this year.