With all the hype that surrounded this weekend’s Dodgers vs. Padres series, one would have thought it was smack-dab in the middle of the 2021 National League playoffs. Indeed, the first game of the extravaganza truly lived up to all the publicity with 12 innings of excitement, but by the time the smoke settled on the entire series, the Dodgers came out on top, although San Diego showed why they might be eventual playoff contenders with a late comeback in the finale.
Obviously, this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as these two teams meeting this season go, but if this series is any indication of what’s to come in the 16 remaining games, fans will certainly be in for a treat whenever these two clubs go head-to-head.
While there’s a ton of analysis to be discussed about the series, here are five things that particularly stand out:
Los Angeles Starting Pitching Is Elite
Arguably, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer make up the top pitching trio in baseball. Buehler was far from being his best in the opener, but he still put the Dodgers in a position to win after surrendering just two earned runs over six innings of work. At the conclusion of the series, the Los Angeles starting three tallied a 1.50 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, and 19 punchouts over an even 18 innings of work. Considering that Dustin May and Julio Urias make up the backend of the rotation with several other options on the fringe, this is one area the Dodgers might not need to worry about this year.
Dodgers Bullpen Still Needs Work
While there were definitely a few bright spots in the relief corps over the weekend, there were also several bad ones. The Los Angeles bullpen could not hold true and preserve the win for Bauer in the finale, as both Brusadar Graterol and Dennis Santana ran into trouble in their respective appearances. In the middle game on Saturday, Corey Knebel looked horrible, and Kenley Jansen surrendered a run after the team put him in a position to collect the win. The good news is that skipper Dave Roberts has shown that he’s willing to use different pitchers in different roles—particularly save situations—as four different pitchers have already collected saves for the team this year. No question, this is an area that will see plenty of scrutiny all year.
Corey Seager Has Gotten Cold
Outside of the timely long ball he hit in the latter innings of the opener, shortstop Corey Seager has been ice cold at the plate. In this series alone, Seager went just 1-for-13. After going two for his last 18, he is now hitting .288 on the season after topping out as high as .423 with his 25th AB. Absolutely, this is a very small sample size, but it just backs up the theory that Seager has been among the streakiest of all Los Angeles hitters in recent seasons. In the midst of his contract year, it will definitely be interesting to see the numbers he rolls out when the end of the regular season approaches.
It’s Still Not a Rivalry, But…
All weekend long, fans have been tossing around the word “rivalry,” while discussing whether these two highly talented teams qualify for such a sacred baseball term. I believe the answer is still “no,” but when considering the amount of energy from fans, players, coaches and management, the Padres inched a little closer to being the next legitimate division rivals of the Dodgers. The Los Angeles rivalry with the Giants is seemingly somewhat fading, and the intense competition with the Diamondbacks has definitely lessened in recent years, so the door is indeed open for the Padres. Still, there’s a long way to go.
We’ll Never Understand Andrew Friedman
When Los Angeles recently claimed pitcher Ashton Goudeau off waivers from the Giants, many of us here were trying to figure out the rationale for the move, as there would have been space needed for Goudeau on the organizational 40-man roster. As it turned out, there was a COVID provision involved that allowed for an extra spot. However, when Graterol was reinstated and subsequently recalled on Sunday, Goudeau was placed on waivers and later claimed by the Rockies. Seems like a lot of extra work for absolutely zero productivity to me.