Cross-country rivals -- who have met in the World Series 11 times during their storied histories -- will reconnect for a three-game series starting Friday when the Los Angeles Dodgers play host to the New York Yankees.
The clubs have not met for a title since 1981 but are playoff contenders againthis season, and they each get an early chance to test themselves against a top team.
The Dodgers are in first place in the National League West. Although they just completed a disappointing 4-6 road trip, they have won 13 of their last 15 home games after taking two of three from the Washington Nationals.
The Yankees are in third place in the American League East but are getting healthy again with outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, third baseman Josh Donaldson and right-hander Tommy Kahnle all expected to be activated in advance of the series. New York has the third-best road record in the AL at 15-11.
As well as the Dodgers have played, especially after a slow start in April, pitching issues persist. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will start the series opener Friday, but injuries will necessitate that rookies Michael Grove and Bobby Miller start Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
In Wednesday's loss to the Nationals, Dodgers starter Noah Syndergaard saw his struggles continue, while reliever Brusdar Graterol coughed up a late lead. Manager Dave Roberts was non-committal on whether Syndergaard would make his next start.
"We've been very good typically at preventing runs (but) certain guys just aren't doing it," Roberts said. "We're evaluating all the time. So as we keep running guys out there, we'll have some decisions to make. But ultimately, players make the decisions. It's not me or this organization. And that decision is on performance."
The Yankees have seen Stanton and Donaldson play just 18 games combined this season because of hamstring injuries. Kahnle (biceps) has not pitched at all after spending last season with the Dodgers.
"They've all been doing pretty well here for a while and have been able to do a lot of physical work to get themselves prepared," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "For the most part, I feel like they're ready to go."
Stanton is a Los Angeles-area native who grew up watching games from the Dodger Stadium bleachers. He won the All-Star Game MVP in the ballpark last season after hitting a home run in a 3-2 American League victory.
Stanton played in just one rehab game at Double-A Somerset, after not playing in a major league game since April 15.
"There's so many tools we have now that you can replicate (game situations) better than ever," Boone said. "In Giancarlo's case, he's been doing a lot of physical stuff as far as outfield work and the running buildup."
New York has been erratic on offense, scoring one run in consecutive defeats last week against the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres, then scoring 10 runs in three consecutive games this week against the Padres and Seattle Mariners. But the Yankees were shut out 1-0 by Seattle on Wednesday to end a four-game winning streak.
Kershaw (6-4, 3.32 ERA) will make his fifth career start against the Yankees. He does not have a win against them but does have a 1.67 ERA over 27 innings.
The Yankees will counter with right-hander Luis Severino (0-0, 1.59), who will be making his third start of the season after a lat injury. Severino faced the Dodgers just once in a scoreless two-inning relief outing in 2016.
--Field Level Media