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Dodgers
Photo Credit: LA Times

MLB Playoff Preview: Dodgers vs Padres – NLDS – Game 1

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Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0)  |  San Diego Padres (2-1)

 

 

The Dodgers and Padres face off once again this season, this time in the National League Divisional Series.

Major League Baseball decided to not reseed the playoffs after the Wild Card round. Also, instead of staying in the Golden State, the teams head to Dallas, Texas to play in the Rangers’ new stadium, Globe Life Park. The Astros and A’s play at Dodgers Stadium.

This is series is big brother vs little brother. It’s Lakers vs Clippers. San Diego thinks they’re participants in a great rivalry, but Los Angeles doesn’t think so and doesn’t really care since they are focused on winning their first World Series since 1988. Looking back at home, many former Dodgers leave to go to San Diego, and most in the twilight of their careers. Players like Steve Garvey, Mike Scioscia, and Fernando Valenzuela, left to the Padres as free agents, while Matt Kemp was traded there.

 

Enough about the past, let’s get into the present and talk about two of the best teams in Major League Baseball squaring off in what could become the most exciting series in the postseason.

 

Dodgers vs Padres
Photo Credit: San Diego Tribune

The Dodgers are the best team in the Major Leagues and the Padres may be the second best. This is a matchup that was destined to happen, it’s just a shame it is happening so early on the postseason and not with an opportunity to go to the World Series on the line.

The Dodgers finished the shortened regular season 43-17. Their home vs road splits 21-9 at home and 22-8 on the road, which was the best in baseball. San Diego was 21-11 at PetCo Park and 16-12 on the road. Head-to-head, the Dodgers won the season series 6-4, outscoring San Diego 56-29.

 

 

Two of MLB’s most exciting players and MVP candidates will square off.

 

When the Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts in the offseason, it was for this is the exact reason. Betts has been clutch all season long and has a history of playing even bigger in the postseason. His regular season is MVP-worthy posting a .292 batting average, hitting 16 home runs, driving in 39 runs, stealing 10 bases, scoring 47 runs, and playing Gold Glove caliber defense in right field. But it is the leadership and the way Betts plays the game that has transformed the Dodgers into a much better team than they have been the past eight years, all of which they won the NL West.

Dodgers vs Padres
Photo Credit: Reuters

In the past, on paper the Dodgers have had more talented teams. But when they got to postseason they stumbled or had the World Series stolen from them. The teams seemed flawed and relied solely on the home run or Clayton Kershaw’s pitching, and we all know how that turned out.

This team is different. While they still led the big leagues in home runs, they also have the speed element that they have lacked in recent years, as well as playing a more aggressive style compared to years past. That is a byproduct of Betts and his leadership. You have to credit the Dodgers for taking to that leadership and his style of play, which for a veteran team that has had success, is not an easy thing to do.

Betts is hitting .429 with 3 RBI in the postseason so far.

On the flipside, Fernando Tatis Jr. has lead the Padres all year long and has become one baseball’s most exciting players. He put up MVP quality numbers in his second season (.277/17/45/11) while also having some of the best bat flips after hitting dingers. While his numbers are impressive, they also tailed off towards the end of the season which has most likely has him finishing third in the MVP race behind Betts and the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman.

Tatis is currently hitting .455 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI’s heading into the NLDS.

 

But the story of this series will be pitching, which is always the case in the postseason. The Dodgers are coming into the series with a healthier staff, but they also have question marks, namely Kershaw and his past postseason performances.

 

Photo Credit: LA Times

Kershaw was locked-in against the Brewers in Game 2 of the NLWCS. Kershaw had his best playoff performance in his career. He set a postseason career-high, 13 strikeouts, walked only 1, and went eight strong innings in the victory. His velocity was up, he had bite to his curve ball, and outstanding movement on his change up. He also will be going home to Dallas, where he is from, to pitch in this series.

This would be the ideal Kershaw pitching for the Dodgers, but it isn’t realistic to expect that in every postseason start coming from him. The Dodgers need Walker Buehler, Dustin May and Julio Urias to also come up big for them if they want to advance to another NLCS. Buehler will get the Game 1 start with Kershaw to follow, but after that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hasn’t announced publicly, and probably won’t until he needs to.

As for the Padres, things are less certain. San Diego may have Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger, who are both injured coming into the series, but when healthy are very good. So that means Chris Paddack, who gave up 6 ER in 2 2/3 vs the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLWC, Zach Davies, who got hit hard for 4 ER in 2 IP in the NLWC, and Garrett Richards, are also likely options to start for the Padres.

 

Here are the probable starting pitchers for the series. The pitchers’ records are reflective of the regular season since MLB does not count the Wild Card records.

 

Game 1:

Walker Buehler (1-0 / 3.44 ERA) vs TBD

 

Game 2:

Clayton Kershaw (6-2 / 2.16)  vs TBD

 

Game 3:

TBD vs TBD

 

Game 4:

TBD vs TBD

 

Game 5:

TBD vs TBD

 

 

Dodgers-Padres NLDS TV schedule, dates and times:

Game 1: Tuesday, 6:38 p.m. PDT – FS1
Game 2: Wednesday, 6:08 p.m. PDT – MLB Network
Game 3: Thursday, 6:08 p.m. PDT – FS1
*Game 4: Friday, 6:08 p.m. PDT – TBD
*Game 5: Saturday, 5:08 p.m. PDT – TBD

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Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: JoeArrigo

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