The San Diego Padres are set to face off against division rival and the defending World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.
It will be a three-game series and the first matchup between these two heavyweights.
The last time these teams met was last postseason when the Dodgers swept the Padres in the NLDS. Both teams are expected to be the last two teams standing in the National League when it is all said and done, and this series can be the start of a very exciting rivalry.
Dinelson Lamet was thought to return for this series, although the Padres decided to wait a bit longer. Lamet is coming off an injury that saw his 2020 season get cut short and was dearly missed last postseason as the Padres struggled with their pitching. Lamet still finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting last season. So, enter Weathers. The talented, young southpaw will make his first regular-season major league start on the biggest stage. As for Buehler, he is having a good season so far, tossing 12 innings while allowing two earned runs.
The probable pitching matchup will be Yu Darvish for the Padres going up against Clayton Kershaw. Darvish is coming off his best start of the season after going seven innings while allowing one run against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Darvish has a 3.06 ERA on the season, so it will be interesting to see how he does against one of the best offenses in baseball. Kershaw is Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young award winner as well as a former MVP. He isn’t as dominant as he once was but is still a top-tier pitcher in the league. Kershaw is 21-7 lifetime against the Padres while posting a 2.07 ERA in 40 career starts.
The pitching matchup for the finale might be the most intriguing matchup as both men are former Cy Young winners. You got Blake Snell for the Padres versus Trevor Bauer for the Dodgers. Snell won the Cy Young back in 2018 when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Bauer is the reigning winner for the National League as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Snell is having a solid season so far, although he struggled in his last start giving up three runs while pitching 2/3 of an inning. He will look to bounce back in this series against the Dodgers, who he last faced in the World Series. As we know, Bauer was the hot commodity this offseason after going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA with the Reds. He has struggled so far this season, posting a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings pitched. Bauer is in the middle of an MLB investigation for possibly using a foreign substance on his baseballs when he pitches. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and this matchup features two studs on the mound.
San Diego Padres Players to Watch
The three players that you should keep a close eye on are Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, and Tommy Pham. Myers is off to a hot start batting .350 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. There was a reason he was ranked the number one prospect when he was in the minor leagues, and it looks like he might be developing into that All-Star caliber player. However, Myers was injured in the Pirates series and is listed as day-to-day. If he can play and find success against these three pitchers, then Myers might be able to carry his success all season and be an MVP frontrunner. Grisham made his season debut against the Texas Rangers last week, going 5-for-11 with two home runs and three RBIs.
Jayce Tingler said Wil Myers, who's been dealing with patellar tendonitis, is feeling better today. He might be available off the bench tonight, but the Padres would prefer to put him in the lineup tomorrow if he continues progressing.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) April 14, 2021
Grisham has struggled in his career against the Dodgers, posting a .226 career batting average. Still, he also provided one of the most memorable moments last season when he hit a lead-off home run off Kershaw and let the entire Dodgers team that he got them. It will be interesting to see how he reacts in high-leverage moments and how he admires a home run if he so happens to hit one. Will the Dodgers react and get upset like last season? No doubt that Grisham is the spark plug for the Padres, so he will be a huge factor if they want to win this series.
The last Padres player to keep an eye out for is Pham. He has struggled mightily this season, batting .135 with no home runs and zero RBIs. He has had some issues in the past with his vision being diagnosed with Keratoconus, which causes degenerative vision problems. The question could be asked if he is having trouble seeing the ball and tracking it. With Myers and Grisham off to hot starts, Pham is in jeopardy of losing some playing time. He has a tough task ahead, facing three of the best pitchers in baseball.
The best news is that the Padres are expected to activate Fernando Tatis Jr. in time for the most anticipated series of the month.
Today was Fernando Tatis Jr.'s best day "as far as his at-bats" in live batting practice, Jayce Tingler said. Tatis is expected to come off the injured list tomorrow, just in time for the most widely anticipated series of the season.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) April 15, 2021
Los Angeles Dodger Players to Watch for
The three players that you should are Corey Seager, Trevor Bauer, and Kenley Jansen. Corey Seager is off to a terrific start batting .342, and many have picked him as their early MVP. He has hit the Padres well, batting .291 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 63 games. I would expect a big series out of him and for him to cement his name as the early MVP.
Trevor Bauer is very intriguing for this series. He has yet to live up to the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, and the investigation surrounding him for using a foreign substance on his baseballs certainly does not help. He has struggled so far this season, so it will be interesting to see how he handles one of the best lineups in baseball and if he finds any success against them.
Kenley Jansen might be the most important piece if the Dodgers hope to repeat as World Series champions. Jansen has blown some important games in the playoffs over the years but was still able to perform well in the regular season. He has struggled the last three years, posting a 3.01, 3.71, and 3.33 ERA. He has been good this year, converting two saves while posting a 1.93 ERA. Which Jansen will show up in this series as they play one of the best teams in baseball?
There is no doubt that this will be the series of the weekend as these two juggernauts square off. The winner of this series will come out as the division leader, and this series could set the tone for the remainder of their matchups.