Padres at Dodgers Series Preview

Padres at Dodgers Series Preview
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A week ago, I told you that the Padres were the most prolific run-scoring team in the majors, but that they didn’t have the best aggregate batting line. This week, the Padres come to Dodger Stadium for a four-game set as the second best run-scoring team in the majors, but with a major-league best 126 team OPS+. The Padres lead the majors with a .470 slugging percentage, are tied with the Dodgers with a major-league best 29 home runs, and they still lead the majors in stolen bases with 20 steals in 23 attempts (an outstanding 87 percent success rate). That’s an incredibly potent attack, even if it is skewed slightly by the six home runs San Diego hit against Arizona, four of them off Madison Bumgarner, in their series-clinching victory over the Diamondbacks at Petco Park on Sunday.

What team has slipped past the Padres in runs per game? The Dodgers, of course, with 5.44 runs per game to the Padres’ 5.38. That makes this week’s four-game set a matchup between the two most powerful offenses in baseball on the young season.

When these two teams met last week, the two teams split a pair of one-run games. The difference, then, was the Dodgers’ 5-2 victory in the middle game, the only game in the series in which either team failed to score at least four runs. Dustin May started that game for L.A. and turned in the best start of his young career, striking out eight in six innings while allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. May gets the ball again Monday night to kick off this week’s set. Here are the game times and pitching matchups:

Mon. 8/10, 6:40 p.m. RHP Luis Perdomo (5.40 ERA, 5 IP) vs. vs. RHP Dustin May (2.63 ERA, 13 2/3 IP)

Tues. 8/11, 6:40 p.m. RHP Garrett Richards (4.60 ERA, 15 2/3 IP) vs. RHP Ross Stripling (4.00 ERA, 18 IP)

Wed. 8/12, 6:40 p.m. RHP Zach Davies (2.87 ERA, 15 2/3 IP) vs. LHP Julio Urías (2.40 ERA, 15 IP)

Thur. 8/13, 6:40 p.m. RHP Chris Paddack (3.18 ERA, 22 2/3 IP) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (3.60 ERA, 10 IP)

The Dodgers got to Garrett Richards in the finale of last week’s series, plating four runs in five innings against him, hitting for the cycle with the help of a Chris Taylor triple and Joc Pederson home run in consecutive at-bats in the second inning. Pederson also homered off Paddack in the opener, on the first pitch of the series, and the Dodgers added two more runs against him in the fifth.

Perdomo did not pitch in last week’s series and will be making his first start of the season, and only his second since 2018, on Tuesday night. Perdomo, who was league-average in relief last year and has had two good relief outings and one bad one thus far this season, will likely be just the first in a parade of bullpen arms in that game as the Padres search for a way to paper over Joey Lucchesi’s place in the rotation. Lucchesi pitched poorly in both of his starts this year and was sent to the alternate training site when rosters were reduced to 28 men. Active Dodger batters have hit .364/.424/.545 in 99 career plate appearances against Perdomo with almost universal success.

Pulling Perdomo quickly may not radically improve the Padres’ outlook on Tuesday night, as the bullpen has been San Diego’s big weakness thus far. While the Padres’ rotation has posted a 3.31 ERA and held batters to an 84 OPS+, the bullpen has posted a 5.67 ERA and been hit to the tune of a 121 OPS+ on the season. Only lefty Drew Pomeranz has truly dominated out of the San Diego bullpen thus far.

The Dodgers’ pen, by comparison, has a sparkling 1.46 ERA (tops among teams that have played more than five games this season) and has held opponents to a .182/.262/.242 (45 OPS+) line, its only significant meltdown coming on July 31 against the Diamondbacks. Replacing righty Joe Kelly with lefty Adam Kolarek, as the Dodgers did Monday, placing Kelly on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, seems unlikely to have an immediately deleterious impact on that performance.

[Follow Sports Illustrated’s Inside the Dodgers on Twitter.]

The Padres’ starter in game three, Zach Davies, came over from the Brewers in an offseason trade along with centerfielder Trent Grisham. Davies bounced back from a 2018 season ruined by rotator cuff issues last year and is off to a respectable start thus far this year. A soft-tosser, Davies throws a high-80s sinker, a similarly paced cutter, a high-70s changeup, and will occasionally mix in a mid-70s curve. Still, he has managed to post a 111 ERA+ in 114 major-league starts and hold active Dodger batters to a .205/.244/.359 line in 82 career plate appearances. Davies’ increasing fly-ball rate should be a concern to the Padres, but he has countered it thus far this season by walking just one batter in 15 2/3 innings.

Last week’s three-game set with the Padres was the highlight of the Dodgers’ season thus far in terms of compelling baseball, with Chris Taylor’s walk-off assist on a play at the plate in the final game arguably their season’s most exciting play. This week’s four-game rematch promises to be similarly compelling, even if the possibility of a series split would ultimately be less rewarding.

With Eric Hosmer back from the injured list, here are the Padres’ typical lineups . . .

. . . against righties:

R – Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS)

L – Trent Grisham (CF)

R – Manny Machado (3B)

R – Tommy Pham (LF)

L – Eric Hosmer (1B)

R – Wil Myers (RF)

L – Jake Cronenworth (2B)

S – Francisco Mejía/R – Austin Hedges (C)

L – Greg Garcia (DH)

. . . and against lefties:

R – Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS)

R – Manny Machado (3B)

R – Tommy Pham (DH)

R – Ty France (1B)

R – Wil Myers (RF)

L – Trent Grisham (CF)

S – Jurickson Profar (2B)

S – Francisco Mejía/R – Austin Hedges (C)

R – Edward Olivares (LF)

Cliff Corcoran covers baseball for The Athletic and is a former lead baseball writer for SI.com. The co-author or editor of 13 baseball books, including seven Baseball Prospectus annuals, he has also written for USA Today, SB Nation, Baseball Prospectus, Sports on Earth, The Hardball Times, and Boston.com, among others. He has been a semi-regular guest analyst on the MLB Network and can be heard more regularly on The Infinite Inning podcast with Steven Goldman. Follow Cliff on Twitter @CliffCorcoran.