The San Diego Padres versus Los Angeles Dodgers.
For years-decades even- the Padres-Dodgers series was met with a qualm for Padres fans. To be frank, most series the Padres played they were labeled as underdogs.
They provided lackluster lineups with subpar pitching, and more often than not, the padres were sellers at the trade deadline. Adrian Gonzalez, Jake Peavy, James Shields (that worked out well) are just a few names that were shipped away for prospects as the Padres looked to rebuild.
However, look no further because the rebuild has ended, and the Padres are legitimate World Series contenders. In fact, going into the season, San Diego was pegged with the third-highest odds to win a World Series title, according to Oddsshark.
Now, the Padres vs. Dodgers rivalry has become a true rivalry. Dating back to last season, the Dodgers ended the Padres playoff run in the NLDS. Ultimately the Padres didn’t have enough pitching, with injuries to Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet. Nonetheless, the excitement has arrived, and the atmosphere in this rivalry is through the roof.
In fact, it’s not just Padres and Dodgers fans that are excited, but baseball fans as a whole, and the league itself is flying through the roof hyping up this series and battle between these two heavyweights.
After all, let’s not forget Trent Grisham‘s epic pimp job of a homer that fired up both dugouts last season. Let’s also not forget Cody Bellinger‘s fantastic home run robbery that sent Brusdor Graterol into a glove-throwing frenzy.
TRENT GRISHAM PIMP JOB OFF KERSHAW pic.twitter.com/98YEVCjiqU
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 15, 2020
First Padres-Dodgers Series of 2021
April 16 through April 18 was immediately highlighted and circled in calendars in Southern California when the schedule was released. The first battle between the two National League heavyweights was going to take place at Petco Park.
The first pitch was thrown, and the energy just felt like a playoff series. Each pitch, each hit, each strike call was met with a roar from the Friar Faithful, as well as the select Dodgers fans that could get their hands on a ticket. This rivalry has a playoff feel, even in April.
The #Dodgers have rested Betts & Seager…aligned the rotation for their 3 aces: Buehler, Kershaw & Bauer to face the #Padres. Tatis is expected to be reinsteated from IL…Darvish, Snell will pitch Sat & Sun….NL West Drama begins tonight…playoff feeling in April…gotta love #MLB
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) April 16, 2021
It’s unreal. For years the Padres were cellar-dwellers in the National League West and a team that finished above .500 just six times since 1998 when they went to the World Series. San Diego has made the playoffs just three times in that span and never got past the NLDS.
Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, the Padres are the hottest ticket in baseball. The rotation of Snell, Darvish, and Lamet is one of the best in all of baseball and will get even deadlier when Mike Clevinger returns in 2022. The left side of the infield features MLB The Show cover athlete Fernando Tatis Jr. and stud third baseman, Manny Machado.
The Padres pitching has been fantastic to start the year. Going into the Dodgers series, the San Diego arms lead the majors in ERA.
Entering today’s series opener with the Dodgers, the Padres’ pitching staff leads the major leagues with an ERA of 2.38. As rated by more modern stats, San Diego has the third-lowest FIP in baseball (3.11) and second-lowest xFIP (3.26). @EVT_News
— East Village Times Facts (@EVTfacts) April 16, 2021
However, the Dodgers just won the World Series last October and added Trevor Bauer. The Dodgers rotation features Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler. Mookie Betts is a top-10 player in all of baseball arguably, and from top to bottom, the Dodgers don’t have a weak spot in their lineup.
The Rivalry Is Real
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Padres and Dodgers rivalry is real. Corey Seager was asked if the Dodgers view the Padres as rivals now and responded by saying, “We’re just trying to win every series,” according to Blake Harris of TrueBlueLA.
While the Dodgers players have shaken off any indication that this team is just another team, deep down, they know that’s not true. Mookie Betts also said that it’s “just another series.”
This Padres team is nearly identical in terms of talent. From top to bottom, from pitching staff to the bullpen, it’s going to be a wild ride for the 2021 season every time these two teams face each other.
As it sits today, these two squads seem on a crash course for an NLCS battle with the winner representing the National League in the World Series and quite possibly being the betting favorite to win the entire thing.
So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
This Padres-Dodgers rivalry is here to stay for a while. 19 games in the regular season and potentially seven more in the playoffs is going to be exciting. You witnessed it in their first matchup of the season on Friday.