Potential NLCS Preview and Biggest Series So Far Awaits Phillies Vs. Dodgers

Just how good is this Dodgers team the Phillies are set to face this weekend?

They've scored the most runs in the National League.

They have the highest batting average in the National League.

They have the highest OPS.

They have the lowest ERA.

They have the lowest opponents' OPS.

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Oh, and they've gotten a quality start from their pitcher in 14 of the last 16 games.

This is going to be a huge measuring stick for the Phillies. Win two out of three and they'll leave Los Angeles feeling even better about themselves after a strong month of May. Even losing two of three wouldn't be so big a deal given the Dodgers' 21-7 home record.

Dave Roberts' team is a juggernaut. Great offense, good defense, the best starting pitching in the league and an accomplished closer. The weakness is L.A.'s setup men, a situation it'll likely improve ahead of the trade deadline.

"Great team," Bryce Harper said of the Dodgers. "But we're pretty dang good, too. It'll be a good test for us but we know who we are in here."

Cody Bellinger is the runaway MVP in the National League so far. Sure, Christian Yelich also has big offensive numbers, but Bellinger provides so much more than his bat. He is a dynamic outfield defender who leads the majors with seven outfield assists. This past Monday against the Mets, Bellinger homered off Jacob deGrom, threw out a runner at the plate and then threw out a runner at third to end an eighth-inning rally, all in the same game. He's also graded out as one of the fastest players in the majors this season. Beast.

Bellinger, like Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, Corey Seager and Alex Verdugo, is a left-handed hitter. Aside from Justin Turner, the Dodgers' most important hitters are all lefties. It will make Jose Alvarez a huge key in this series - a sentence few thought would be uttered this season. With Adam Morgan on the injured list, Alvarez will be called upon this weekend when the Dodgers have their big lefties due up, perhaps in all three games. The Phils could also recall someone like Austin Davis or Cole Irvin to pitch out of the 'pen, but neither is exactly a lefty specialist.

The Phillies predictably downplayed the upcoming series after Thursday's 5-3 loss (see observations), but if they win it? You'll probably hear some more honesty about what it meant.

"For us, it's about winning our division," Harper said. "You've got to beat good teams to get there as well."

The Phillies will face Kenta Maeda, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill in the series. Kershaw and Hill are lefties, and Harper is 2 for 21 with 13 strikeouts lifetime against Kershaw.

The Phillies will counter with Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta. It will be must-see TV and could legitimately be an NLCS preview, so get your rest after work Friday evening. First pitch is 10:10 p.m.

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