The summer of baseball has looked quite different for two teams that were supposed to be the biggest rivalry in baseball this year. The Dodgers have scrambled, scratched, and fought to win 39-22 since early July. The Padres are 25-33 in that same time — 15.5 games out of first place. And yet, the Padres are still in contention for that elusive second Wild Card spot (currently closely battling the Cincinnati Reds).
But the Padres and the Dodgers still have too much in common for the Dodgers to get comfortable this weekend. They’re 6-7 against the Padres so far this year.
The Padres are shuffling through bullpen games due to injuries much like the Dodgers continue to do. And again, like the Dodgers, despite a grueling schedule and injuries galore, the Padres’ starting pitching has been pretty good. But even with the likes of Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove chipping in, the Padres offense has slowed down. Case in point: Snell pitched a dominant game on Tuesday against the Angels, flirting with a no-hitter, and the Padres still ended up losing 4-0. Snell will be on the mound Sunday and is pitching 1.96 against the Dodgers this year.
The Dodgers are all too familiar with a sluggish offense not backing up very good pitching on their own side. The last few weeks have shown the Dodgers can pull together to win some 1-run games that they weren’t doing earlier in the season: they’ve won eight by just a single run since the beginning of August. Up until Tuesday, though, they hadn’t scored more than 5 runs in a game since August 18 against the Pirates. They then dropped two in a row to the Cardinals by... you guessed it, one run.
The offensive inconsistency has been frustrating all year. As Max Muncy said last night about the Dodgers offense after their loss to the Cardinals, “Pitchers come out and they give us their best and we really have not been giving our best back at them.”
On the pitching side, Dodgers starters are throwing 2.13 overall against the Padres this year. Pushing Urías back a day to start Friday instead of Thursday, in addition to Buehler and Scherzer for Saturday and Sunday respectively, means the Dodgers won't need to utilize another bullpen game this weekend. On the flip side, the Padres have got three strong starters ready for the weekend as well.
For what it’s worth, San Diego’s starting pitching staff has a combined 4.29 ERA right now. However, the Dodgers seem to inspire their very best stuff and they’re pitching a wild 1.73 against the Dodgers this year. That stat does not include Chris Paddack who we’ll see Saturday, as he has not pitched against the Dodgers this year due to IL stints. Los Angeles will need to find a way to break through against this rotation to avoid another slog this go-round.
The Dodgers won all 3 games in San Diego in August the last time they met. And even though one of those games was 16 innings long, I can’t say it was an exciting series. Not like earlier in the season where it felt like watching two teams battling in October. With only 21 games left, I think we’re going to see this series take on some new life. The Padres have too much at stake for their offense to stay dormant and they’re a scrappy team, for better or worse.
Friday, September 10, 7:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA): Julio Urías (16-3, 3.11 ERA) vs. Joe Musgrove (10-8, 2.87 ERA)
Saturday, September 11, 6:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA): Walker Buehler (13-3, 2.31) vs. Chris Paddack (7-6, 4.95 ERA)
Sunday, September 12, 1:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA): Max Scherzer (13-4, 2.28) vs. Blake Snell (7-6, 4.22 ERA)