After a subpar two-game split with the Seattle Mariners, the Los Angeles Dodgers are now set to start a four-game series against the San Diego Padres.
The first series between the two NL West contenders did not fail to provide entertainment and fireworks. If that series is any indication of how the whole 19 games will go this year, then we are in for a treat.
The Dodgers have yet to lose a series in which they’ve played, the only team left who can state that. Being a four-game series, it might be easier to keep that streak alive, needing only to win two games. But if the Dodgers want to continue to make a statement against the Padres and widen their lead for first place, there are a few things they’ll need to do.
The offense was sputtering in Seattle, and one of the main issues with it was that the patient nature of the lineup seemingly disappeared. The Dodgers were chasing pitches more than they have been all season. One wonders if this could be a result of the horrendous strike zone calls from the umpiring staff lately or if the Los Angeles hitters just lost that little mental edge. Either way, that’s not a trend they can continue if they want to beat Padres pitching.
Blake Snell especially likes to nibble around the edge of the strike zone, one of the reasons he drives up his pitch count and is taken out of the game before the sixth inning so often. The Dodgers offense can’t beat themselves before they give opposing pitching a chance to do it.
The offense starts at the top of the lineup, so Mookie Betts and Corey Seager will have to get their bats going. Seager is 3-for-21 in his last five games after a hot start to the season. Betts is 4-for-17 in his last four games, and was hit by a pitch in Monday night’s game. X-rays came back negative and he is expected to return to the Dodgers lineup for Thursday’s game. Especially with Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux on the Injured list, the table setters for the team need to be the spark that gets the whole team going.
Dodgers fans have seen Kenley Jansen looking like he did in 2017. But for the big man to keep pitching like he has been, he cannot be used in back-to-back outings. With the off day on Wednesday, the Dodgers should be able to use Kenley twice in this series. Blake Treinen and Corey Knebel are also going to be well rested, giving manager Dave Roberts good options that aren’t Jansen.
Finally, the Dodgers starting pitching needs to stay hot. The Padres are coming into Dodger Stadium having just been swept by the Milwaukee Brewers. Los Angeles cannot afford to let San Diego get hot at the expense of their pitching.
Matchups for the four game series will be Thursday, Ryan Weathers and Walker Buehler; Friday, Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw; Saturday, Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer; and Sunday, Joe Musgrove and Dustin May.