The San Diego Padres will face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the fourth consecutive time on opening day, to kick off the 2017 season.
The last opening series between the two teams was played at Petco Park in 2016, but this time around the two teams will duel at Dodger Stadium to start the MLB season. The series is set to be a four-game set beginning on Monday, April 3, and concluding on Thursday, April 6. The opening series against Los Angeles in 2016 was one to forget, the Friars being outscored 25-0 in the three-game series. This would include a heartbreaking 15-0 loss on opening day. While this sort of outcome is not impossible in this series, it is hard to imagine the Padres being dominated this greatly again.
The rivalry between these two teams produced some exciting games in 2016, the Dodgers having the slight edge over the San Diego Padres, the Boys in Blue winning 11 games and the Friars winning eight games throughout the 2016 MLB season. Three series between the two teams were played at Dodger Stadium in 2016, the Dodgers having the edge, winning two out of the three series. There was only one four-game series between the crosstown rivals in 2016, the Dodgers taking three out of the four games at Dodger Stadium.
Dave Roberts’ team is one of the favorites to take the N.L. West division this year, with a very strong squad. In contrast to that, Andy Green’s side is the favorite to be dead last in the division and perhaps wield one of the worst records in MLB. Regardless of this, the series should still be entertaining, due to the rivalry between the two teams which has produced some intense encounters over the years.
The pitching matchups in this series are mismatches, especially the opening day matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Jhoulys Chacin. This will be Kershaw’s fourth opening day start against the San Diego Padres, his third consecutive one as well. The lefty’s last opening day start against the Friars turned out to be a gem in 2016, only giving up one hit in seven shutout innings. The three-time Cy Young award winner pitched just two games against the Pads in 2016, one of the encounters being the opening day performance that was mentioned before. and the other being an incredible outing in which Kershaw single-handedly defeated the Padres. On May 1, 2016, at Dodger Stadium Clayton Kershaw threw a complete game shutout with 14 strikeouts against the Padres. The game ended 1-0, Kershaw driving in the only run of the game with a RBI single.
Jhoulys Chacin had a solid spring to earn his spot as the opening day starter for the San Diego Padres. The Venezuelan pitcher has faced the Dodgers several times throughout his career, posting decent numbers against The Boys in Blue. In 20 games against Los Angeles, Chacin is 9-7 with a 3.91 ERA and 87 strikeouts. In nine games at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander is 5-3 with a 2.94 ERA. It seems improbable for Chacin and the Friars to get a favorable result in this game but the numbers suggest that they do have a chance to get the upset on opening day.
Maeda had a nice rookie year in 2016, going 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.139 WHIP in 32 starts. Against the Padres, Maeda was solid, going 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA and a minuscule 0.727 WHIP in four starts. The Japanese pitcher’s first start against the Friars particularly stood out, Maeda throwing six shutout innings at Petco Park and even getting himself a solo home run off Andrew Cashner.
Clayton Richard was a nice surprise to the 2016 season, posting a 2.52 ERA in 11 games with the Friars. In Richard’s lone start at Dodger Stadium, the lefty had success, giving up one run on nine hits through nine innings. Overall at Dodger Stadium, Richard has been decent in nine career games, posting a 4.10 ERA. This should be one of the more intriguing pitching match-ups in the series with both pitchers still with a lot to prove in 2017.
Hill had an outstanding 2016 campaign with the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers. In 20 starts in 2016, the veteran posted a 2.12 ERA with a 12-5 record and a spectacular 0.997 WHIP. In his lone game against the Padres, the lefty threw a gem, allowing one hit over six scoreless frames. Hill was one of the best pitchers in 2016 and will look to continue his dominance in his first full season with the Dodgers in 2017.
Trevor Cahill is one of the more interesting players on the 2017 San Diego Padres. The 6-foot-4 pitcher was part of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, providing work out of the bullpen for the Cubbies throughout 2016. In 50 games with the Cubs in 2016, Cahill posted a 2.74 ERA with 66 strikeouts. It was surprising that the Friars decided to sign Cahill and make him part of their rotation, rather than a decent team signing him and making Cahill a part of their bullpen. Cahill has a lot of upside going into this season, coming off a solid 2016.
2016 was not great for the 6-foot-7 right-hander, being an injury plagued year. McCarthy finished 2016 with a 2-3 record and a 4.95 ERA in 10 starts. McCarthy’s lone start against the Padres in 2016 was decent, the lanky pitcher going five innings and allowing three runs. Throughout his career, the California native has excelled against the Friars, going 7-1 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.114 WHIP. 2017 will be an important year for McCarthy coming from an injury plagued season in 2016.
Jered Weaver was one of the more peculiar signings for the Padres this off-season. Weaver, 34, is far past his prime and it seems that he has seen his best years in MLB pass him. 2016 was an abysmal year for the veteran right-hander, posting a 5.06 ERA in 31 starts with the Anaheim Angels. Pitching with the Angels for so many years, Weaver does have experience pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 11 starts against The Boys in Blue, Weaver has a 6-3 record with a 2.66 ERA. Weaver’s numbers at Dodger Stadium are even better, posting a 1.98 ERA in six career starts. The 6-foot-7 pitcher is expected to struggle this year, not looking great in spring training, but it will be interesting to see how Weaver does in his first start of the season.
Hunter Renfroe vs Kenta Maeda
There are only three outfielders on the San Diego Padres roster, one of them being the promising Hunter Renfroe. The 25-year-old did have a cup of coffee in the MLB in 2016. In that time, Renfroe was successful, batting .371 with four home runs. One of those home runs was a three-run shot against Kenta Maeda. Renfroe will be one of the most exciting players to watch in this series, particularly in game two when Maeda is on the mound for the Dodgers.
Yangervis Solarte vs Brandon McCarthy
Solarte is the only Friar who has been overly successful against Brandon McCarthy. The Venezuelan infielder has gone 4-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI in his career against the lanky pitcher. Solarte will be one of the most important players on this team in 2017, both performance-wise and morale-wise in the dugout.
Players to Watch
The Chula Vista native has been terrorizing the Padres since he left the team in 2011. In 2016 Gonzalez was successful against his former team, posting a .295 BA with four doubles, two home runs, and nine RBI in 18 games. Gonzalez will be one of the main players to watch in this series because of his success against some of the pitchers Andy Green will use throughout the series. The Mexican-American player has excelled against Jhoulys Chacin posting a .333 BA with a home run and four RBI. Against Clayton Richard, Gonzalez has gone 10-for-17 with five RBI. Finally, against Trevor Cahill, ‘El Titan’ has posted the most impressive numbers, going 12-for-30 with three home runs and 10 RBI. The former Padres fan-favorite has made fans suffer for years now and should be one of the main players to watch throughout this opening series.
Margot will be one of the most exciting players for the San Diego Padres in 2017. The young outfielder offered Friar faithful a glimpse of what he can do in 2016, participating in 10 games with San Diego. The Dominican prospect posted a .243 BA with four doubles, a triple, three RBI, and two stolen bases in 2016. Margot is expected to be near the top of the lineup for Andy Green and should be a consistent starter throughout the year.
Bethancourt will be the most intriguing player in all of baseball in 2017. The Panamanian player will serve as a super-utility player, playing as a catcher, infielder, outfielder, and relief pitcher. Bethancourt did have a busy off-season, mainly working on his pitching, hitting the upper 90’s in some instances. It will be interesting to see in how many different positions Bethancourt does play in this series, and whether he gets a chance to pitch out of the bullpen.
Everyone is happy that MLB baseball is back. The San Diego Padres will not be a great team this year, currently in the second year of a rebuilding process. The series will still be interesting and worth watching with players like Margot, Bethancourt, Renfroe, and Wil Myers. There is a chance this series will turn out like the opening series in 2016, where the Dodgers outscored the Padres 25-0 in a three-game series. But the Friars should be able to give more of a fight in this series. The prediction for this series is the Los Angeles Dodgers taking the series 3-1, with the Padres taking the third game.