|Dodgers' Utley makes final visit to Philly to face former team|
Chase Utley will play his final regular-season games in Philadelphia this week as the Phillies take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series that starts Monday night.
Utley, the former Phillies second baseman who helped the franchise win the 2008 World Series, announced earlier this month that he will retire at the end of the season. A six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger winner in his 12 1/2 seasons with Philadelphia, Utley is certain to receive a raucous ovation.
"(Phillies) fans have always treated me great," the 39-year-old Utley told NBC Sports Philadelphia in 2017. "I obviously appreciate the way they've supported me over the years, even though I'm in a different uniform, they're still cheering for me."
There is a slim chance that Utley could return to Citizens Bank Park as a player in the postseason if the Phillies and Dodgers match up in the playoffs. They both enter Monday in first place. The Dodgers (55-44) lead the National League West and the Phillies (55-43) are a game ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin (7-2, 3.15 ERA) will face Ross Stripling (8-2, 2.08) in the series opener.
Eflin missed his final start before the All-Star break because of a blister, and he is pitching for the first time since July 9. The 24-year-old became a reliable arm in the rotation this season, and he allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his 12 starts.
Eflin is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers. He has surrendered seven home runs in 14 innings against Los Angeles, and the team has a 1.085 OPS against him. Eflin gave up two homers, five runs and seven hits in four innings against the Dodgers on May 30.
That was before they had Manny Machado.
The Dodgers acquired Machado from the Baltimore Orioles last week. The Phillies were also rumored to be close to landing the slugging shortstop but came up empty.
Machado is off to a hot start with his new team, going 5-for-13 (.385) in his first three games. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in an 11-2 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.
"You throw a guy like that in our lineup that is already dangerous," Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp told MLB.com of Machado, "and it makes it even worse for the other team. He has good at-bats, every at-bat. He takes walks, hits the ball hard, and that trickles down and affects you."
The Dodgers are 12-5 in July and will try to get another win behind Stripling.
A first-time All-Star in 2018, Stripling won eight of his nine decisions since moving from the bullpen to the rotation in early May. The right-hander has a 2.01 ERA in 13 starts this season and notched 89 strikeouts in 76 innings in those games. Stripling threw six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres in his last start on July 12.
Stripling beat Eflin and the Phillies on May 30, going seven innings and striking out nine while allowing one run. Stripling, who was born in the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, Pa., is 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA in four career appearances against the Phillies.