Series Preview: The Padres Face a Resurging Dodgers’ Team in Los Angeles

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(Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Padres will fly across the country to play their third series against the Dodgers this year. Los Angeles swept the Padres in mid-April, and two games ended with the embarrassingly lopsided scores of 10-3 and 13-4. The next series, considered a home series for the Padres, actually took place in Monterrey, Mexico. The Padres took two of three after suffering a combined no-hitter in the first game, a 4-0 loss.

The Padres began the current road trip by taking three of four from the Pittsburgh Pirates. In Washington, they won only the final game against the Nationals thanks to another solid start by Tyson Ross. The Dodgers, who don’t resemble the team that won 104 games in 2017, enter the series in fourth place at 22-27, the Padres in fifth at 21-30. Only 5.5 games separate the first-place Colorado Rockies and the Padres, the slightest margin in any division.

Earlier this month, the Dodgers hit rock bottom by losing four games to the Cincinnati Reds and two of three to the Miami Marlins, two last-place teams that aren’t even trying to win. From there, however, they moved on to sweep the Washington Nationals and win two of three from the Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers have been beset by injuries including those to three starting pitchers: Clayton Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis), Rich Hill (recurring of blisters on left hand), and Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain). All-star shortstop Corey Seager is out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The injuries have required juggling as Chris Taylor has moved from center field to shortstop and first baseman Cody Bellinger to center. Max Muncy (signed with Dodgers after being released by Oakland in 2017) has taken over at first.

The Padres have had their own share of injuries with pitcher Dinelson Lamet (right elbow surgery), Austin Hedges (right elbow tendinitis), Hunter Renfroe (right elbow inflammation), Wil Myers (strained left oblique) and Joey Lucchesi (right hip strain), among others, on the disabled list.

Game 1 (7:10 PT) Clayton Richard (3-5, 4.87 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) vs Ross Stripling (1-1, 2.08, 1.24)

Richard’s best starts have been his last three in which he went eight innings in games against the Nationals and Cardinals and 7.1 against the Pirates, losing the first but allowing only three runs. At the suggestion of pitching-whisperer Darren Balsley, Richard has changed his arm angle back to his pre-surgery delivery.

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In his third season, Stripling has started just four games so far this season, having begun the year in the bullpen and pitched in 10 games in relief with a minuscule 0.63 ERA. He faced the Padres on May 6 in Monterrey, going four innings and allowing four hits but no runs.

Game 2 (7:10 PT) Jordan Lyles (1-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) vs Alex Wood (1-4, 3.32 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

The Padres signed Lyles, who has also pitched for the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies, in August 2017. His 1-3 record and 9.39 ERA last year and spring performance sent him to the bullpen rather than the starting rotation. However, needing a spot starter, the Padres turned to him May 15. Lyles pitched 7.1 perfect innings against his former team, the Rockies. In his next start against the Pirates, he came back to earth, giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

In Wood’s last start he gave up two runs on three hits in six innings against the Nationals. He warmed up to start the seventh but left with cramping. Shortstop Freddy Galvis has faced Wood more than any other Padre and has batted .368/.368/.421 against him.

Game 3 (1:10 PT) TBA Walker Buehler (2-1, 2.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)

The Padres have not announced the starter for Sunday’s game. While Robbie Erlin or Bryan Webb could be available, neither has performed well in the starting role. Luis Perdomo, sent to the minors after four starts, could also be an option.

Padres’ hitters will be itching to remove the memory of Buehler’s six no-hit innings in Monterrey. Although Buehler was hit in the ribs by a 108-mph line drive off the bat of the Rockies’ Trevor Story on May 21st, he’s scheduled to take this start.

Players to Watch:

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Third baseman Justin Turner just returned from a broken left wrist suffered during spring training. In 2017 Turner batted .322/.415/.530 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI, and his reappearance seems to have buoyed the rest of the lineup.

Outfielder and former Padre Matt Kemp returned to his original team in an obvious salary dump that sent Adrian Gonzalez and three other players to the Atlanta Braves. Although never intended to be a regular, Kemp has hit his way into the lineup and leads the team with a .327 average.

Also a former Padre, catcher Yasmani Grandal has eight home runs, 28 RBI, and a batting line of .255/.353/.483. Both Grandal and Kemp have hit well against their former team. In the April 17 loss to the Dodgers, Kemp had a single and three-run homer, and Grandal hit a grand slam in the ninth inning to bring his RBI total to five for the game.

For the Padres, lately, Travis Jankowski and Eric Hosmer have sparked the team at the top of the lineup. Although Jankowski has tailed in the last couple of games, his speed alone gives opposing pitchers a pause.

Christian Villanueva, who may be emerging from his prolonged slump has batted .250/.375/.400 against Dodger pitching.

Freddy Galvis, the first real shortstop the Padres have had in years, has done more than his job in the field. Offensively in the last 15 days, he has 13 hits in 50 at-bats, including five of six doubles for the month.

However, the Padres have a great deal of room for improvement at the plate, as the team ranks 28th in batting average at .227, 29th in on-base percentage at .294 and second in strikeouts with 492.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.

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