The Dodgers came into the 2022 season as the World Series favorites, but before getting to that goal, the first one is to win the NL West, and step one in that journey is doing well against the Giants and Padres. This division title won’t come without its challenges.
A 106-win season in 2021 was only good for second place, and although most expected a step back or two for the Giants, if for nothing else for the sheer difficulty of winning 107 games for any ball club. San Francisco was always going to be dangerous, and the Padres were bound to improve upon a disappointing 2021.
All of that being said, with virtually a third of the season having been played, the Dodgers hold a small lead in the West. The Giants are not quite at their 2021 level but remain a dangerous contender, and the Padres find themselves at the heels of LA, a couple of games back in the loss column.
Here’s the thing though, with 59 games on the books, the Dodgers have faced the Giants and Padres a combined five times, three against San Diego and two against San Francisco. Who can forget the battle that last year’s 19 affairs against the Giants were, with the Dodgers going 9-10 and finishing one game back of the San Francisco at season’s end.
How the Dodgers fare against the Giants moving forward in the remaining 17 games will tell a lot about how this season will go, for both teams really. LA already took the first two games in a mini-sweep at home in early May. They certainly hope to take the season series against them this time around.
The 37-20 Dodgers get set for thee against the 30-25 Giants. Let’s have a look at the probable pitching matchups for these three-weekend games.
Friday: Walker Buehler vs Jakob Junis
Walker Buehler doesn’t have fond memories of his last regular-season start against the Giants;
The Dodgers ace took the loss on a Sunday Night Baseball game in late September allowing six runs over three innings in what would end up being the deciding game in the NL West chase, and also the outing that cost Buehler a shot at the Cy Young award.
The 2022 season hasn’t gone as well for Buehler, who has allowed four or more earned runs in three of his last five starts and currently bolsters a 3.84 ERA. He’ll look to bounce back against a Giants team he's been pretty good against with a career 2.55 ERA in 67 innings.
On the other side, Jakob Junis is having a career year on the hill. He currently has the lowest ERA in the Giants rotation at 2.51 albeit in only 43 frames. It will be the first time Junis goes up against the Dodgers.
Saturday: Clayton Kershaw(?) vs bullpen game
All signs point towards a successful return for Clayton Kershaw to the Dodgers rotation, following a successful rehab outing last Sunday, and Andrew Heaney shouldn’t be too far behind him.
The only question is when exactly Kershaw will pitch this weekend.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said rotation might change this weekend. Clayton Kershaw will start either Saturday or Sunday with Julio Urias possibly moved back to Sunday. #gamesmanship— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) June 9, 2022
These returns, Kershaw’s in particular doesn’t come a moment too soon. The Dodgers have been able to rely heavily on Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson through this stretch, but there is only so much you can expect from those two, especially the ladder who struggled on the finale against the White Sox.
Kershaw will make his sixth start of the season against an all-familiar foe in the Giants, number 22 has 358.2 career innings against them and a magnificent 1.88 ERA in what amounts to basically two seasons of play.
This figures to be a bullpen game for the Giants, with their starting pitcher still TBA.
San Francisco’s bullpen has been underwhelming in 2022 with struggling campaigns from the likes of Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee. Overall, this is a bullpen that ranks 25th in baseball in ERA (4.42).
Sunday: Julio Urías (?) vs Carlos Rodon
Julio Urías is having an underwhelming season. Urías has a 150 ERA+. Those two statements are true and indicative of the standard Urías has set for himself, and the expectations that come with it.
Urías is also the prime example of how pitcher wins are completely whacky and rather volatile. The only 20-game winner in 2021 currently boasts a losing record at 3-5 despite a very good 2.78 ERA and pitching behind one of the best offenses in all of baseball.
It will be a battle of southpaws, as Carlos Rodón starts for the Giants. The big money acquisition of the Giants offseason got off to a scorching hot start just mauling through the league, and although the fears of diminished velocity as the season progress haven’t materialized yet, Rodón has cooled off as of late.
The former White Sox pitcher has completed six innings in only one of his last five starts. and will face the Dodgers lineup for a second time this year, Rodon allowed a couple of runs over six innings in a 3-1 loss at Dodger Stadium.
Even after this series, the Dodgers will still have another 15 games on the books against the Giants, but a series between these two ballclubs is always must-see TV and a great thermometer for their season.
Dodgers are -235 favorites to win the National League West, per DraftKings.