DENVER - First place in the National League West has been changing hands in recent days and placement in the standings might only get more volatile when the Los Angeles Dodgers meet the Colorado Rockies for four games in the Mile High City.
The Dodgers will head into the series that starts Thursday a half-game out of the top spot, with the Rockies a mere three games back. The Arizona Diamondbacks moved back on top in the division Wednesday.
The Rockies have been tied for second place as recently July 31, and the last time they were in first place in the NL West was on June 1. They were knocked from the upper perch in a defeat to the Dodgers so a little revenge could also be exacted this weekend.
The Dodgers will open the series with the return of right-hander Ross Stripling (8-3, 2.68 ERA). A toe injury had Stripling on the 10-day disabled list, but a recent DL stint for Alex Wood (hip) opens a rotation spot for Stripling's return.
An All-Star for the first time this season, Stripling had been on a downturn even before appearing in the Midsummer Classic. Stripling not only had a 4.73 ERA in five July starts, he gave up back-to-back home runs in the All-Star Game and was the losing pitcher for the NL.
In his only two starts after the All-Star Game, Stripling gave up a combined nine earned runs on 14 hits over 8 2/3 innings. But a recent sideline session had the Dodgers optimistic.
"I just liked the way (his stuff) was coming out," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I talked to him, he feels good about it."
Stripling has faced the Rockies 10 times in his career, but only three of those were starts. He is 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA over 25 innings.
In his one start against Colorado this year, Stripling gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings, but did not get a decision in the Dodgers' 6-4 victory on July 1.
Coors Field might be a boon to offenses everywhere, but Rockies starter Tyler Anderson has no problem thriving there. Anderson (6-4, 4.05) will face the Dodgers in Thursday's series opener after going 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA over his last four home starts. His 3.50 ERA in 30 starts at Coors Field is the lowest in franchise history.
The left-hander is coming off a rough outing at Milwaukee, though, when he gave up seven runs on seven hits in four innings and tied a career high by allowing three home runs.
"All four of his pitches weren't working," Rockies manager Bud Black said of Anderson's last outing, according to mlb.com. "Pretty simple."
Anderson is 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers and has a 3.46 ERA against Los Angeles in two starts this season.
He has started two games against the Dodgers this season, going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA. Anderson's most recent start against Los Angeles was on June 29, when he pitched eight shutout innings and got the win in the Dodgers' 3-1 victory.
The Rockies are coming off a home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates where they lost two of three games, their first series defeat at Coors Field since June 22-24 against the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers just split a pair of games at Oakland and went 2-3 in a short stretch of interleague games against the A's and Houston Astros.