The Los Angeles Dodgers have to feel good about opening a crucial series -- made critical thanks to being swept by the San Francisco Giants earlier in the week -- with starting pitcher Chad Billingsley on the mound in the opener against the Miami Marlins Friday night at 7:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers need wins to keep pace with the surging Giants, who grabbed a three-game lead in the NL West with Thursday night's win over the Atlanta Braves. To that end, Billingsley -- who seems to have figured out how to win consistently at long last -- is asked to stop the team's losing streak. Billingsley has won six in a row and has allowed only six runs since the All-Star break.
The Dodgers also need to win to keep their wild-card hopes alive, if they can't rise in the division. Despite being outscored 14-6 in the San Francisco sweep, the Dodgers finally found some offense late in the series finale. They'll need their struggling big hitters, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, to come through.
L.A. sees a familiar face in Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi Friday night. It was Eovaldi whom the Dodgers traded to the Marlins in the deal that brought Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate out west.
Giancarlo Stanton absolutely mashes against the NL West, with 13 of his 26 home runs against teams in the division. The only team against which the Marlins outfielder has not gone deep this season? The Dodgers, but the San Fernando Valley native hopes to change that this weekend.