Kapler, Roberts match wits as Phillies visit Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will match wits starting Monday with one of the guys who nearly ended up with his current job.

Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers’ former director of player development and manager candidate when Roberts was hired before the 2016 season, is now manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and he will bring his National League East-contending club into Los Angeles for a four-game series.

Keen on analytics and nutrition, two significant traits he used during his tenure with the Dodgers, Kapler had his Phillies in first place for a day this past weekend despite the fact his managerial resume had just a season in Single-A on it, as well as a WBC qualifier with Team Israel.

“Don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t paying attention to the standings in May,” Kapler said, according to mlb.com. “I don’t think that’s true of any baseball man that I’ve been around, or any baseball fan that I’ve been around. You pay attention, you care, and it means something.”

Kapler helped run a talented Dodgers farm system that has mixed youngsters like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler onto a major league roster that boasts Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal.

His first managerial job has not been without its speed bumps, but even with a 5-3 loss Sunday to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Phillies have won 11 of their last 17 games.

“Gabe has done a great job with those guys and it is a fun team to watch, it really is,” Roberts said Sunday. “They can pitch, position-play wise they are young and athletic, so it will be good get him back. He still lives out here obviously and we wish him well.”

Wishing Kapler well does not mean that Roberts is interested in seeing the club’s old farm system boss hang losses on the Dodgers this week.

Like the Phillies, the Dodgers are also playing better this month, winning eight of their past 10 games, and taking their third consecutive series with a 6-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

The Dodgers have been a more cohesive unit offensively and the bullpen has been improved, with those two traits a major influence on the 2017 club that went to the World Series.

Kershaw (left biceps tendonitis) will come off the disabled list for Thursday’s series finale. Kershaw’s return will likely bump Brock Stewart from the rotation, but the right-hander is in line to make his second start of the season Monday.

In his fourth stint with the Dodgers already this season, Stewart is showing his versatility with a pair of starts this time around. He had been used as a reliever, coming out of the bullpen three times.

Stewart has just one appearance against the Phillies, giving up a run a relief inning last season.

The Phillies will send Vince Velasquez (4-5, 4.18) to the mound Monday. The good news for Velasquez is that he has 17 strikeouts in 11 career innings against the Dodgers. The bad news: The Dodgers have tagged the right-hander for 18 hits and 14 runs in those 11 innings.

Monday’s game is the start of a 10-game, 11-day road trip for the Phillies.

“It’s going to be a good barometer,” Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.