Friday will mark the sixth game or competition Juan Soto has played in at Dodger Stadium over the last nineteen days, but as you might have heard, Soto won’t be making his home Dodgers debut in this one. Instead, he headlines a revamped Padres lineup heading into a three-game weekend series between the top two teams in the National League West.
San Diego is the closest competitor to the Dodgers in the division, but the race isn’t all that close, with the Dodgers holding a 12½-game advantage heading into the weekend. But for both of these playoff locks, the next two months are about setting things up for the postseason than anything else.
By the time October rolls around, the Dodgers will be intimately familiar with the Padres, who they’ve only played twice this season. These two teams still have four more series on the 2022 docket, and that’s before considering a possible playoff battle like in 2020.
Put another way, the Dodgers have 57 games remaining on the schedule, and twelve of them (21 percent) are against the Padres.
In addition to this weekend, the two clubs will meet three times in the final month — September 2-4 in Los Angeles, then September 9-11 and September 27-29 at Petco Park.
Before the trade deadline, the Padres’ biggest need was offense. They head into Friday with a 101 wRC+ as a team, roughly league-average. We knew they would improve once Fernando Tatis Jr. returns. That hasn’t happened yet, but what they did this week was not only add Soto (.249/.410/.491 this year, a 153 wRC+), but also first baseman Josh Bell (143 wRC+) and infielder Brandon Drury (133 wRC+) as well.
It’s a much deeper lineup.
Maybe the Dodgers will add a little depth as well, depending on when or if Chris Taylor gets activated, which could be as soon as this weekend.
Two playoff locks, potentially on a collision course for the NLDS, still have four more regular season series against each other down the stretch. That’s the good stuff.