The Padres have not had a winning record against their big-money rival up the freeway since 2010. So far this year, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won five of seven games. On July 9, the Padres will return home and have the opportunity to change that narrative in a four-game series against the Dodgers.
After a lackluster 12-16 start to the season, the Dodgers have regrouped going 17-9 in June and 5-2 in July. Hit hard by injuries in the early going, the Dodgers have welcomed back pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda. The Padres will not have to face rookie Walker Buehler, who, along with three relievers, no-hit the team in Monterrey, Mexico. He is on the DL with a rib microfracture.
The Padres had a winning record in May (15-13), but since then have gone 14-19. The team has a cumulative batting line of .234/.298/.366. One of the focuses for the year had been improving on-base percentage, which obviously hasn’t happened. On Saturday night, in the most discouraging game so far this year, the Arizona Diamondbacks pummeled the Padres in a 20-5 slugfest that included three home runs off the bat of Wil Myers.
This will be Clayton Kershaw’s fourth start since returning from the disabled list. He’s had back problems in the past, but the latest injury, biceps tendonitis, affects that $35 million dollar arm so the Dodgers will continue to monitor his pitch count. In 10 at-bats Freddy Galvis has six hits, while Wil Myers has gone 1 for 23 against the ace.
Banished to the minors to retool in April, Luis Perdomo will get his second start since his return. Before his demotion he faced the Dodgers, pitching three innings, and giving up nine runs on 10 hits in a 4-13 loss. Back with the big club on July 4, he gave up only two runs on four hits in a loss to the Oakland A’s. However, he also walked four batters. Current Dodger’s hitters have a combined .370/.405/.620 batting line against the 25-year-old pitcher.
Rich Hill left his last start against the Pirates after hurting his neck diving for home plate. Although still suffering from soreness, he’ll take the mound on Tuesday. The Padres have not faced Hill this year, but have collectively batted .173/.262/.280 against the veteran lefty. Manuel Margot has three hits and two walks against Hill.
In his last start, Eric Lauer pitched five innings giving up seven hits and only one run to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Manager Andy Green let him start the sixth, but pulled him when he allowed a double and walk. In his first year in the majors, he’s definitely showing progress. The Dodgers (with a batting line of .278/.278/.333 against the rookie) will test that learning curve. Cody Bellinger and Matt Kemp have hit especially well against the young left-hander.
Like Clayton Kershaw, Maeda also spent time on the disabled list with a right hip strain. He returned in mid-June and has won three of five games. In his last start, Maeda faced the Los Angeles Angels, giving up only one run in 5.2 innings. Closer Kenley Jansen took the loss giving up the winning run in the ninth inning. Freddy Galvis (.462), Manuel Margot (.364) and Carlos Asuaje (.444) have hit well against the right-handed Maeda.
Since returning from the disabled list on June 20 against the Oakland A’s, Joey Lucchesi has gradually gone deeper in games and gotten stronger. In his last start, against the first-place Diamondbacks, he made it through five scoreless innings but got into trouble in the sixth when the wheels fell off, and he loaded the bases then hit a batter. He also got his first hit in the game, one of only five total hits by the Padres in a 1-3 loss.
This season Ross Stripling (who combines brokering stocks with baseball) has pitched 11.2 innings against the Padres giving up ten hits and allowing only one unearned run and striking out 17. Earlier in the season, Rick Honeycutt, the Dodgers’ pitching coach, suggested he aim at the plate and throw his curveball as hard as he can (as teammate Kershaw does). He’s struck out 96 batters this year. Freddy Galvis (.400), Manuel Margot (.667) and Jose Pirela (.833) have hit well against the 28-year-old right-hander.
In a regrettable game all around (a 20-5 win for Arizona), Tyson Ross gave up seven hits, two walks and eight runs Saturday night in just two innings. Wil Myers’ three home runs and four RBI mattered little against the D-Back onslaught. In his previous start, a loss to the Pirates, Ross gave up seven hits, three walks, and seven runs. Ross has been mentioned as trade bait, but thanks to his latest performances his value has dropped precipitously.
Players to Watch
Max Muncy: Max who? One of the most pleasant surprises for the Dodgers this season has been the performance of the unheralded Muncy. He’s earned the nickname Mad Max and has reached the 20-home run mark faster than any other Dodger player in history, prompting Kershaw to call him “the best hitter in baseball right now.” He also has a .273 average and .411 OBP.
Matt Kemp: Except for home runs, Matt Kemp (Dodger draftee and former Padre), leads the Dodgers in other offensive categories like batting average (.321), OBP (.356) and RBI (27). Playing in left field, he’s gone from being part of a salary dump in the Dodgers trade of Adrian Gonzalez (among others) to the Atlanta Braves to an integral part of the lineup.
Wil Myers: After missing almost two months with a strained oblique, Myers has gradually gotten his swing back since returning to the Padres June 22. In the last seven days, he has seven hits and four walks in 18 at-bats with a double, triple and three home runs. He’s currently batting .300/.351/.556. Against the Dodgers, he has batted .159/.232/.204.
Eric Hosmer: Hosmer leads the Padres in OBP (.333) and total hits (86), but has been in a recent swoon at the plate. Although a historically streaky hitter, this stretch has him glued to video or working in the cage. Curiously, in a lefty matchup, Hosmer has five hits in eight at-bats against Kershaw.