San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers series preview.
A change of scenery may have been in order after being swept at home by the going-nowhere San Francisco Giants. However, just about any destination other than 1000 Vin Scully Avenue would have been preferable. Dodger Stadium holds 56,000 fans, and the Padres can expect to play before a packed house.
The Padres have lost four games in a row. In contrast, the Dodgers can boast five straight walk-off wins, the best record in all of baseball and a 36-9 record at home.
The Padres have fallen back below break-even ball and enter the series with a 42-44 record, 16 games out of first place. The Dodgers sport the top run differential (+130) in baseball, while the Padres sit at -36 DIFF.
Both teams have had pesky problems bridging the gap between starting pitchers and their closers, Kirby Yates (27 saves, 1.27 ERA, 0.849 WHIP) for the Padres and Kenley Jansen (23 saves, 3.28 ERA, 0.953 WHIP) for the Dodgers. In December, Los Angeles signed Joe Kelly to a $25-million, three-year contract, to solidify the bullpen. Instead, he’s accumulated a 5.76 ERA 1.652 WHIP. Like the Padres, the Dodgers are shopping around for relievers.
After the demoralizing series against the Giants, the Padres will have to regroup and bring their A game in every sense of the word to Los Angeles. However, the Dodgers have momentum on their side.
Lamet will not be eased back into the Padres rotation in his return from Tommy John surgery but instead will face the Dodgers in LA on the fourth of July. In his rookie season in 2017, Lamet struck out 139 batters in just over 114 innings. In 21 cumulative at-bats, current Dodger hitters have a .238 against Lamet.
Despite his awe-inspiring numbers, Ryu does occasionally lose a game as he did on June 28. However, that 9-13 loss occurred in Coors Field. At sea level, he has lost just one game to the Angels in early June. Hunter Renfroe and Wil Myers have batted .273 and .417 respectively against Ryu.
In his last start, Lauer pitched only four innings in a win against the St. Louis Cardinals. His starts have ranged from 2.2 innings to 7.0. S
everal Dodger hitters have had considerable success against Lauer including Cody Bellinger (.444), Max Muncy (.667), and Joc Pederson (.500). Lauer has had more success against Chris Taylor and Justin Turner.
Over 11 years, age and injury have forced Kershaw to adjust. Despite those challenges, he has dominated the Padres throughout his career. In 919 at-bats against the left-hander, the Padres have a batting line of .119/.254/.297. However, Eric Hosmer (.400) and Franmil Reyes (.556) have had success against Kershaw.
Paddack burst on the scene with three straight wins, pitching between 6.0 and 7.2 innings. Then he faced the Dodgers and gave up six runs in five innings in a 3-6 loss, and the reality of facing major league hitters dawned. However, he’s regrouped and in his last start, a win against the Cardinals, he pitched 6.0 innings and gave up only one run and two hits. In 19 total at-bats against Paddack, Dodgers have batted .263/.333/.684.
Maeda has won his last two starts, both against the Rockies, although he lasted only 4.1 innings in Colorado. In 12.2 innings against the Padres this season, he’s given up six hits and four runs. Austin Hedges, not known for his bat, has hit .375 against Maeda, and Manuel Margot has also had success (.308).
Lucchesi’s last start, against the Cardinals on Sunday, ended in an extra inning, 3-5 loss and began the current losing streak. He went only 5.1 innings as his pitch count rose to 87. Current Dodgers have batted .257/.337/.459/ against Lucchesi.
Stripling has come out of the bullpen to replace Rich Hill in the starting rotation. He pitched 4.2 innings on July 2 in a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Myers (.417) and Margot (.444) have had the most success against Stripling.
Players to Watch
Bellinger leads the Dodgers in multiple offensive categories including batting average (.345), home runs (29), RBI (70) and OBP (.440). Last year Bellinger moved from first to the outfield seamlessly when Chris Taylor took over at shortstop for an injured Corey Seager. Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations, has created a roster with depth and versatility.
Actually, Seager is currently nursing a hamstring injury and probably won’t return until after the All-Star break. Padres’ pitchers will not miss the Dodger shortstop who has a cumulative .392 batting average against current San Diego starters and relievers.
Stripling will likely not be able to go deep in the game, because he’s transitioning from the bullpen. Patient at-bats (not a forte of the Padres’ hitters) would help the cause.
Mark Grant likened Tatis Jr. to a cartoon character after he made another one of his seemingly impossible plays at short. Thanks to his poise, he will not be overwhelmed by the crowd or the occasion. Also in his favor, none of the Dodger pitchers have faced him, and they will certainly have to keep a close eye on him when he gets on base.
The 26-year-old right-hander couldn’t have a more challenging reintroduction to the big leagues. In his short career, he’s faced the Dodgers in only 21 at-bats, which may give him a very slight advantage. The pressure on the young pitcher will be intense.
Boos will undoubtedly greet Machado, who played for the Dodgers the last half of the 2018 season. His bat has cooled down the last week, but he has had success against the Dodgers with a .368 average and four home runs in 19 at-bats