Dodgers Start Pivotal Series Against Padres with NL West Title on the Line

Note to self – do not title a blog post “Do the Dodgers Have a Pitching Problem” because then, they really will.

Of course this is mostly tongue-in-cheek. But just after my Thursday column was posted, starting pitcher Walker Buehler was placed back on the IL while he deals with a blister on his pitching hand. Dustin May had to leave the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks after only one inning, as he was hit in the foot with a comeback liner. The Dodgers then had to cobble together the rest of the game for pitching, and they lost 5-2. Saturday night, closer Kenley Jansen had a pretty big collapse on the mound, allowing the Houston Astros to score five runs in the top of the ninth and ultimately win the game.

The Dodgers then also had to employ a bullpen game for the Sunday night game against the Astros. However, they fared much better in that one, winning 8-1. Jansen again made an appearance and was much sharper than his Saturday night performance. He had one strikeout and retired the side in order.

Now, the Dodgers start a critical three-game series against the very hot Padres in San Diego. The Padres have won their last seven games, and are 8-2 over their last 10, winning 20 of their last 25. The lead in the NL West is down to 2.5 games and if the Dodgers get swept, they would find themselves looking up at those Padres.

There is some debate as to whether winning the division in a year with such a different playoff system would still have the benefits it normally might have. No team will be able to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, as the NLCS and WS will be played in Texas. In the National League, the difference between the bottom four teams could be marginal.

As of right now, if the Dodgers win the division they would play the eighth seed, which would be the Colorado Rockies. If they were the four seed, they would face the five seed in the Miami Marlins. There is a chance that the Rockies could be replaced by the New York Mets, and facing Jacob deGrom would not be fun. Regardless, the Dodgers should be able to handle either opponent they would have to face.

Still, the Dodgers have won the division for the last seven seasons, and they don’t have any thoughts of relinquishing that title anytime soon. The Padres, however, are itching to knock the Dodgers out of the top spot and show that they are back in contention.

I have for sometime thought that the Dodgers still lack that certain something – not drive, per se, but that certain urgency that comes with chasing down a team as opposed to being the one always at the top. Aside from 2018, this is the closest NL West race in 10 years at this point in the season. Perhaps this tough competition is just what they need to get their heads focused on finally putting it all together and being ready for the playoffs.

As he was just used in the doubleheader against the San Diego Giants on Sunday, the Dodgers will not see newly acquired Mike Clevinger. Pitching matchups will be Monday, Dinelson Lamet and Clayton Kershaw. Lament went 5.2 innings against the Dodgers on August 4, allowing two runs, one earned. Tuesday will feature Tony Gonsolin and a pitcher yet to be determined for the Padres. Both pitchers are TBD for the matinee on Wednesday. The Dodgers hope that Dustin May will be able to return to the rotation then.

A fun fact and something to follow – Mookie Betts and Fernando Tatis Jr are tied at 15 home runs a piece, good for the most in the National League.

This will be a good test for the Dodgers, to see how they handle a little pressure on them both within the division and with playoff implications. Monday and Tuesday’s games will be at 6:10 PT, and Wednesday’s game will be at 1:10 PT.

11 thoughts on “Dodgers Start Pivotal Series Against Padres with NL West Title on the Line

  1. They need to put the Padres back on their heels starting with the first game. They win tonight, the lead is back to 3 1/2. That means they leave town in first no matter what, and then head to Denver for 4 while the Pads are playing the Mariners for 3. Seattle playing a lot better than they have before. Pads finish with the Angels for 2, and then 3 against the Giants in SF. who will be playing for their playoff lives, so it should be tight. Pads come into this game riding a 7 game winning streak. Time to kick the chair out from under them. Lamet faces Kershaw tonight. Davies tomorrow against TBD.

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  2. I certainly don’t blame you for the Dodgers’ pitching problems which happened right after you posted your article Andy, but I’d appreciate it if you’d put together a post entitled “Do the Padres Have A Pitching Problem?” Thanks.

    For those who believe in reversion to the mean, the Padres have won 20 out of 25. They may be due for a slight slump. On the other hand Tatis Jr. has one hit in his last five games. He may be due for a monster series. Two opposing forces. Which one will overcome the other?

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      1. Was trying to be funny. Guess not.

        Speaking of not funny. The Dodgers pathetic performance tonight was not hilarious.

        What a time to start playing .500 ball.

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  3. Pitiful performance in a must win game. Not going to dwell on the negatives, but this team needs a spark from someone. Maybe they get it from Turner tomorrow.

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    1. The offense will continue to struggle with Bellinger, Muncey, Pederson, Lux and now also Rios all hitting under their weight. I said last Spring or maybe it was the winter to watch out for the Padres. And that was before they added some good pieces at the trade deadline. Smith has been the hottest hitter lately and needs to be in there the vast majority of remaining games. Let’s hope Gonsolin and May are sharp the next two games.

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      1. The Padres have the look of a team that knows they can score. We need to hit with them to play with them. And we need to tighten up the defense. Make all the outs they give you and steal one now and then. The way we’ve played in the last 10, 5-5, doesn’t matter. In this game it’s always the next 10. Next pitch. It’s always about the next pitch.

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  4. Right now and going forward, all games are important and the best defensive and offensive lineups need to be in there. If JT is at DH, then the players should be Smith, Bellinger, Hernandez, Seager, Muncy, Taylor, Pollock and Betts. Barnes, Pederson, Lux and Rios on the bench.

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    1. The way Joc and Lux are playing, I’d really like to see McKinstry get a couple weeks of playing time. He might be a better option than one of those two guys for the playoffs and he can play both left field and second base. Actually Rios isn’t looking very good right now either, so maybe we need to bring Beaty back up as well.

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    2. I think Muncy should join the bench crew and we go with 8 in the field.

      Ok, bad strategy. Muncy has to play defense where he does the least amount of damage and I’m afraid that position doesn’t exist.

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