This Dodgers-Padres series in the final week of the regular season has long been anticipated, but now that it’s here, only one of the teams has a future beyond Sunday.
San Diego was eliminated from playoff consideration over the weekend, a stunning collapse for a team that was built to contend. Their once-safe lead for the second wild card spot is no more, the byproduct of dropping 29 of their last 40 games.
Yu Darvish starts the opener Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, with his fortunes mirroring the Padres’ fall as the season progressed. Through June, Darvish had a 2.44 ERA and 3.06 FIP in 16 starts, striking out 30.5 percent of his batters.
Since the start of July, Darvish has a 6.78 ERA and 5.15 FIP, with a 27.6-percent strikeout rate. He allowed 18 home runs in those 13 starts, compared to only 10 allowed in his first 16 starts.
After allowing just one run in each of his first three starts against the Dodgers in the first half of the season, Darvish allowed four runs in six innings on August 26 in San Diego, finishing off a Dodgers sweep. Los Angeles did the same at home just over two weeks ago, winning all three against the Padres, though Darvish didn’t pitch in that series.
Walker Buehler starts for the Dodgers on Tuesday, looking to turn around a subpar September in which he has a 7.32 ERA and 4.59 FIP, and two starts he was chased before finishing four innings.
“Obviously my past four haven’t been up up to what I want. I think going forward we’re going to try to figure it out and get ready to go,” Buehler said after his start last Wednesday in Colorado, in which he allowed five runs in 3⅔ innings. “We’re actively trying to figure some things out. We’ve talked about this for a long time, I think tinkering and figuring things out is something I’ve always done. I just need to do that a little bit better.”
Like Darvish against the Dodgers, Buehler has allowed seven total runs in his four starts against the Padres this season, though no more than two in any one start. Buehler has a 2.03 ERA in 26⅔ innings against San Diego this season.
In addition to the SportsNet LA broadcast, ESPN will televise the series opener nationally, with no blackouts. Karl Ravech will call play-by-play for ESPN, along with analysts Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.
Wednesday’s game will also be on ESPN, with Melanie Newman and Mendoza on the call.
Teams: Dodgers (100-56) vs. Padres (78-78)
Location: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: SportsNet LA, ESPN