Dodgers vs. Padres: NL Division Series scouting report, prediction

SERIES SCHEDULE (all times PT)

Game 1: Padres at Dodgers, Tuesday, 6:37 p.m., FS1

Game 2: Padres at Dodgers, Wednesday, 5:37 p.m., FS1

Game 3: Dodgers at Padres, Friday, Time TBA, FS1

x-Game 4: Dodgers at Padres, Saturday, Time TBA, FS1

x-Game 5: Padres at Dodgers, Sunday, Time TBA, FS1

x- if necessary

Season series: The Dodgers won, 14-5

TALE OF THE TAPE (OFFENSE)

Padres (NL rank) … category … Dodgers (NL rank)

89-73 (2nd in NL West) … record … 111-51 (1st in NL West)

705 (8th) … Runs scored … 847 (1st)

.318 (4th) … OBP … .333 (1st)

.382 (11th) … Slugging Pct. … .442 (2nd)

.700 (9th) … OPS … .775 (1st)

.241 (8th) … Batting Avg. … .257 (2nd)

153 (12th) … HRs … 212 (3rd)

49 (14th) … SBs … 98 (5th)

TALE OF THE TAPE (PITCHING)

Padres (NL rank) … category … Dodgers (NL rank)

3.81 (5th) … Team ERA … 2.80 (1st)

3.80 (T-7th) … Starters ERA … 2.75 (1st)

3.83 (5th) … Bullpen ERA … 2.87 (1st)

1.20 (4th) … WHIP … 1.05 (1st)

9.05 (5th) … Ks per 9 inns … 9.08 (4th)

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PADRES: LF Jurickson Profar (.243/.331/.391, 15 HRs, 58 RBIs), RF Juan Soto (.242/.401/.452, 27 HRs, 62 RBIs, 135 walks combined with Nationals and Padres), 3B Manny Machado (.298/.366/.531, 32 HRs, 102 RBIs, 100 runs scored), DH Josh Bell (.266/.362/.422, 17 HRs, 71 RBIs), 2B Jake Cronenworth (.240/.333/.394, 17 HRs, 88 RBIs, 88 runs scored), 1B Wil Myers (.261/.315/.398, 7 HRs, 41 RBIs), SS Ha-Seong Kim (.251/.325/.383, 11 HRs, 59 RBIs, 12 SBs), CF Trent Grisham (.184/.284/.341, 17 HRs, 53 RBIs), C Austin Nola (.251/.321/.329, 4 HRs, 40 RBIs)

DODGERS: RF Mookie Betts (.269/.340/.533, 35 HRs, 82 RBIs, 117 runs, 12 SBs), SS Trea Turner (.298/.343/.466, 21 HRs, 100 RBIs, 101 runs, 27 SBs), 1B Freddie Freeman (.325/.407/.511, 21 HRs, 100 RBIs, 117 runs, 13 SBs), C Will Smith (.260/.343/.465, 24 HRs, 87 RBIs), 3B Max Muncy (.196/.329/.384, 21 HRs, 69 RBIs), DH Justin Turner (.278/.350/.438, 13 HRs, 81 RBIs), LF Trayce Thompson (.256/.353/.507, 13 HRs, 41 RBIs), 2B Gavin Lux (.276/.346/.399, 6 HRs, 42 RBIs), CF Cody Bellinger (.210/.265/.389, 19 HRs, 68 RBIs, 14 SBs)

The midseason acquisition of Juan Soto (along with Josh Bell and Brandon Drury) and the anticipated return of Fernando Tatis Jr. from a fractured wrist was supposed to turn the Padres’ lineup into a pitcher’s nightmare by now. It hasn’t worked out that way. Tatis never returned due to a suspension for PED use. And Soto has yet to arrive. He hit just .236 with a .778 OPS for the Padres (including .198 over the final 32 games of the regular season). Jake Cronenworth and Wil Myers have had significant dropoffs from their 2021 production as well, leaving Manny Machado to carry the Padres’ offense. Machado has done that at an MVP level. The Dodgers have been able to minimize his damage against them, holding him to a .254 batting average and five RBIs in 19 regular-season games this year.

The Dodgers’ lineup is much deeper – as evidenced by their MLB-leading 847 runs scored this season (including 109 in their 19 regular-season matchups with the Padres). Five Dodgers had at least 20 home runs (Mookie Betts, Will Smith, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner and Max Muncy with Cody Bellinger just one short) and five drove in at least 80 runs.

“Sometimes we’ve had Cody Bellinger hitting nine. He is a former MVP that can change a game in one swing,” Freeman said. “So top to bottom, you can do so many different things.

“It’s just a dynamic lineup one through nine. It’s hard to navigate. … I think it’s just a good lineup that can do damage against good pitching.” EDGE: DODGERS

STARTING PITCHERS

PADRES: RH Mike Clevinger (7-7, 4.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.2 Ks per 9 IP), RH Yu Darvish (16-8, 3.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 9.1 Ks per 9 IP), LH Blake Snell (8-10, 3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 12.0 Ks per 9 IP), RH Joe Musgrove (10-7, 2.93 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.1 Ks per 9 IP)

DODGERS: LH Julio Urias (17-7, 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.5 Ks per 9 IP), LH Clayton Kershaw (12-3, 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 9.8 Ks per 9 IP), LH Tyler Anderson (15-5, 2.57 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7.0 Ks per 9 IP), RH Tony Gonsolin (16-1, 2.14 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8.2 Ks per 9 IP)

Conventional wisdom pegged the New York Mets as a more dangerous NLDS opponent for the Dodgers because of their starting pitching, namely Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. The Padres’ trio of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove outpitched them in the wild-card series, the main reason they are here now. Darvish, Snell and Musgrove allowed just three runs in their starts (two in 3⅓ innings by Snell).

Their chance to repeat that and pull off another upset will be blunted by the schedule. Darvish will not be available until Game 2 with Snell and Musgrove lined up behind him and the possibility of a second start from one of those three limited to the unlikely scenario of Darvish returning on short rest for a potential Game 5. Mike Clevinger, who missed the wild-card series due to illness, will start Game 1. He was 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season.

On the other hand, the four rested pitchers lined up to start for the Dodgers – Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin – made 12 starts against the Padres this season, going 8-0 with a 1.36 ERA. The Padres batted a collective .179 in those games. EDGE: DODGERS

BULLPEN

PADRES: LH Josh Hader (2-5, 36 saves, 5.22 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 14.6 Ks per 9 IP combined between Brewers and Padres), RH Robert Suarez (5-1, 1 save, 2.27 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11.5 Ks per 9 IP), RH Pierce Johnson (1-2, 5.02 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 13.2 Ks per 9 IP), RH Luis Garcia (4-6, 3 saves, 3.39 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 10.0 Ks per 9 IP), LH Tim Hill (3-0, 3.56 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 4.7 Ks per 9 IP), RH Nabil Crismatt (5-2, 2.94 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.7 Ks per 9 IP), RH Nick Martinez (4-4, 8 saves, 3.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.0 Ks per 9 IP), LH Adrian Morejon (5-1, 4.24 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.4 Ks per 9 IP), RH Steven Wilson (4-2, 3.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 9.0 Ks per 9 IP)

DODGERS: RH Evan Phillips (7-3, 2 saves, 1.14 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 11.0 Ks per 9 IP), RH Chris Martin (4-1, 2 saves, 3.05 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 11.9 Ks per 9 IP combined with Cubs and Dodgers), RH Tommy Kahnle (0-0, 1 save, 2.84 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 9.9 Ks per 9 IP), (RH Brusdar Graterol (2-4, 4 saves, 3.26 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 7.8 Ks per 9 IP), LH Alex Vesia (5-0, 1 save, 2.15 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 13.1 Ks per 9 IP), RH Yency Almonte (0-0, 1 save, 1.02 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 8.4 Ks per 9 IP), LH Andrew Heaney (4-4, 3.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 13.6 Ks per 9 IP), RH Dustin May (2-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.7 Ks per 9 IP)

Like the trade for Soto, the midseason acquisition of Josh Hader was supposed to turn the Padres’ bullpen into a monster. But Hader (who was having a sub-par season in Milwaukee) gave up 13 runs on 13 hits and eight walks in his first nine games as a Padre. He found himself in September, allowing just one unearned run and four hits while striking out 13 in his last 10 regular-season appearances then throwing a scoreless inning in his only NLWC appearance.

After years of pitching in Japan, 31-year-old Robert Suarez has emerged as an unexpected running mate for Hader in the bullpen, giving the Padres two hard-throwing options to protect leads.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, will go all in on analytics-directed bullpen management with no closer waiting for the ninth inning. Evan Phillips has been their best reliever (filling the shoes of Blake Treinen and Daniel Hudson). He and Tommy Kahnle (absent most of the year with injuries) could be key to making the new-age bullpen work. EDGE: DODGERS

BENCH

PADRES: IF Brandon Drury (.263/.320/.492, 28 HRs, 87 RBIs combined with Reds and Padres), C Jorge Alfaro (.246/.285/.383, 7 HRs, 40 RBIs), OF Jose Azocar (.257/.298/.332, 10 RBIs), C Luis Campusano (.250/.260/.500, 1 HR, 5 RBIs), IF-OF Brandon Dixon (.214/.214/.286, 1 RBI)

DODGERS: IF-OF Chris Taylor (.221/.304/.373, 10 HRs, 43 RBIs, 10 SBs), C Austin Barnes (.212/.324/.380, 8 HRs, 26 RBIs), OF Joey Gallo (.160/.280/.357, 19 HRs, 47 RBIs), IF-OF Miguel Vargas (.170/.200/.255, 1 HR)

A year ago, the Dodgers’ bench was a major weakness as they dragged their way to an NLCS exit in the postseason. This year, it’s … not exactly a strength. Chris Taylor finished the season slumping and injured. A cortisone injection seems to have addressed his neck injury. Joey Gallo for the Dodgers and Brandon Drury for the Padres might be the best candidates to come off the bench and take a series-altering swing. EDGE: EVEN

MANAGERS

PADRES: Bob Melvin, first season with Padres (89-73, .549), 19th season overall (1,435-1,345, .516), eighth postseason (12-18, .400)

DODGERS: Dave Roberts, seventh season (653-381, .632), seventh postseason (44-33, .571)

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For all their trades and free agent signings over the past few years, the Padres’ biggest upgrade might have been at manager this winter. After six years with first-timers Andy Green and Jayce Tingler, Bob Melvin has put a steady, experienced hand at the helm in San Diego, getting them closer to performing up to their talent level.

Coming off a historic 111-win season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is in a familiar position. Win it all and watch the front office, the payroll and the star players get all the credit. Fail to pair regular-season dominance with a World Series championship again and the finger of blame will point straight at him. It’s not fair. But it’s the tradeoff for getting to manage the most talented roster in baseball. EDGE: DODGERS

SERIES PREDICTION

The Padres have made a lot of noise over the past few years about challenging the Dodgers – “the dragon up the freeway,” as chairman Peter Seidler referred to them. But they have done little to alter the relationship between the two franchises. The Dodgers won all six series between the two teams this season, 14 of 19 games in all by a combined score of 109-47. The Dodgers have won 23 of the past 28 regular-season meetings, have gone 144-73 against the Padres since 2011 and the only other time the Padres rose up to challenge them in the postseason (the 2020 pandemic bubble) the Dodgers slapped them back down with a three-game sweep. “They handed it to us pretty good this year, so we realize what we’re up against,” said Melvin who only has to take ownership of the 2022 matchup. “I think it feels a little bit better now that we’re not looking at the standings and 18 games behind or 20 games behind, whatever it was.” Freeman has made it a point to say repeatedly in recent days that regular-season records and matchups mean “nothing” in the postseason. There is ample historical evidence to support him – ask the 1988 New York Mets about a 100-win team losing in the postseason to an inferior team it dominated in the regular season. But take the dragon in this matchup. PICK: DODGERS IN FOUR