The Dodgers and the Astros will rekindle their rivalry with a quick two-game set this weekend in Los Angeles. The teams previously met for two games in Houston back in July, with the Dodgers taking both those games by a combined 9-4 margin.

Because the Dodgers-Astros series is the most notable (albeit not the most important) series of the weekend, we figure it would be worth our while and yours to offer a little preview. 

Here’s the game information for the two games.

Below, you’ll find three things you need to know heading into Saturday night’s series opener.

Joe Kelly won’t pitch this weekend, but he was involved in the most memorable aspect of their July meeting.
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1. First series since Kelly incident

If people remember anything about that initial series, it’s the acts of Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly. 

Kelly, for those who have short memories, threw at and behind multiple Astros hitters during his outing on July 28. He then taunted them as he left the field, causing the benches to clear and meme creators to log on. 

Kelly was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball. He had that suspension reduced to five games with a successful appeal, but it hasn’t mattered much to his availability. His last appearance came on Aug. 8, and the Dodgers just activated him from the injured list on Thursday following a month-long absence caused by shoulder inflammation.

Kelly still has to serve out the rest of his suspension, so he won’t be a factor in this series.

2. Bad blood stems from cheating scandal

The oddest aspect of Kelly’s aggression is that he’s one of the Dodgers who could be reasonably figured to have the least beef with the Astros. 

Before the pandemic, the biggest storyline in baseball was what would happen with the Astros this season after their improper sign-stealing operation was revealed over the winter. The Dodgers, who lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros in seven games, took turns swiping at Houston heading into the season, as they wondered to themselves what could have been.

Kelly, for his part, didn’t join the Dodgers until after the 2018 season.

3. Teams in different spots

Although the Dodgers and Astros have been two of baseball’s most successful franchises over the last decade, they’re entering this series in markedly different spots.

The Dodgers are the best team in the majors. They’ve won 71 percent of their games to date, and have done so while outsourcing their opponents by more than two runs per contest. Not only is that the best mark in the game, it’s the best mark by a fair margin: the San Diego Padres, who have the sport’s second-best run differential, have outscored their foes by 1.4 runs. 

The Dodgers have no reason to be concerned about their playoff standing. For them, the final two weeks are a dress rehearsal for the postseason.  The Astros, on the other hand, are fighting for their playoff lives. 

The Astros will enter Saturday night’s game with virtually no chance at winning the division (they’re seven games behind the Oakland Athletics), and with a slight grasp on the sixth seed in the American League thanks to their 2.5-game lead over the Mariners for second place in the AL West.

This series is more important for the Astros than the Dodgers, which, in turn, could make it mean a whole lot more to the Dodgers.

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