San Diego Padres series preview: Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers

SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 5: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after hitting a grand slam walk off home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park May 5, 2019 in San Diego, California. The Padres won 8-5. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 5: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after hitting a grand slam walk off home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park May 5, 2019 in San Diego, California. The Padres won 8-5. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium for a four-game divisional series. How do these teams match up halfway through the year?

Friar fans, you’ve been through the ringer this summer.

The San Diego Padres have alternated between promising outings and crushing defeats. Coming off a series loss at the hands of the San Francisco Giants – who are now only three games behind the Padres with a 39-47 record – the San Diego is once again struggling to gain some momentum.

With the All-Star Game nigh upon us, the Friars will face one more challenge before the season’s official halfway mark.

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The MLB juggernauts await.

Sitting pretty at 59-29, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been nothing short of dominant. They have the best win percentage in the entire league (.670%) and are 14 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies, who are in 2nd place in the NL West. They’re an unbelieveable 36-9 at home.

Cody Bellinger is on a tear, slashing .345/.440/.705 on the year. He has 29 home runs, 70 RBIs, and 105 hits, which rank 2nd, 2nd, and T-7th in the MLB.

He’s also coming off a 2-for-5 night, hitting two home runs – the second one for the Dodgers’ fifth consecutive walk-off win, the most since 2004.

Unfortunately, none of this is really news to Padres fans.

The Dodgers have controlled the NL West for the better part of the last decade. They’ve won six division championships in a row, having gone to the World Series for the last two years straight.

The last time these teams met, the Dodgers swept the two-game series.  A lot has changed since then, when the Friars had only six less wins than the NL West rival, 22-19 vs. 27-16. The Dodgers have taken off ever since and haven’t looked back, while the Padres have generally hovered around the same win percentage all year long.

Before we dive into the series preview, let’s just take a moment to remember the second-to-last time these teams played each other:

Much better.

Game 1

The Independence Day series opener is expected to be a fun one, as Dinelson Lamet will finally make his return to the starting lineup. It’s been almost a year and a half since he had Tommy John Surgery, but it’s official – he’ll be the Padres’ starter on Thursday, July 4.

Lamet’s rookie year in 2017 saw a 4.57 ERA and 1.242 WHIP, but he broke the Padres’ record for the best strikeout-to-innings ratio in a single season, averaging 10.9 strikeouts per nine.

He’ll face a very tough challenge in his return. Lamet will duel against Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-2), who leads the league with an eye-popping 1.83 ERA on the year. Ryu is peppered across the season’s leaderboards – here are just a few:

  • .903 WHIP – 2nd in the MLB
  • 13.429 strikeout:walks ratio – 1st in the MLB
  • 2.88 fielding-independent pitching – 4th in the MLB
  • 2.9 win probability added – 7th in the MLB
  • 3.3 WAR for pitchers – T-9th in the MLB

To say Ryu has looked good would be a massive understatement. He’s having the best season of his career, which is incredible considering his 2018 stat line featured a 1.97 ERA and a 1.008 WHIP. Lamet will have his work cut out for him.

Game 2

The following day will pit Eric Lauer (5-7) against Clayton Kershaw (7-2). Lauer has continued to struggle this season; the decent stat line from his last start – one run off of six hits through four innings against the St. Louis Cardinals – is deceiving, as the Cardinals’ poor baserunning really helped him out. He’ll also face a challenge, going up against the perennial great who is Clayton Kershaw.

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The future Hall of Famer has also regressed this season, however.

He currently owns a 3.23 ERA, 3.75 FIP, and 1.065 WHIP – the highest of his career since 2010.

Kershaw gave up four earned runs over seven innings with seven strikeouts in his last start against the Rockies. Against the Padres this year, he’s allowed six runs off of 11 hits in 13 innings, or a 4.15 ERA.

This would be a great game for Lauer to showcase his potential and break out for his best game of the year.

Game 3

Chris Paddack (5-4) will get a rematch against the Dodgers, this time against Kenta Maeda (7-4). After an incredible start to the season, Paddack hit a rough patch that led to him getting sent down to Class A Lake Elsinore.

He was recalled to start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but truly returned to his old self against the Cardinals. After allowing a home run to the first batter he faced, Paddack allowed only one more hit and no extra runs through six impressive innings.

Maeda is 6-3 in his career against the Padres, and his last start was indicative of that track record. He threw 6.2 scoreless frames, allowing only three hits to lead the Dodgers to a 2-0 win. He struck out a season-high 12 batters and didn’t allow a walk, the first time of the year for him.

Maeda’s last start against the Rockies was a bit rougher. He allowed two runs off of three hits with five strikeouts and two walks. His afternoon was cut short as he lasted only 4.1 innings.

Here’s to hoping he replicates his most recent start against the Padres on Saturday.

Game 4

The afternoon rubber match will feature Joey Lucchesi (6-4) against Ross Stripling (3-2). After a fantastic outing against the Milwaukee Brewers, Lucchesi’s two successive starts were less impressive.

He’s failed to go past 5.1 innings since then and has averaged three runs off of five hits. When Joey Fuego is in control, it’s hard to cool him down, so we’ll see if he can revert to his May self when he was sporting a 2.97 ERA and 0.758 WHIP.

Stripling, who has a 3.45 ERA on the year, has struggled since replacing Rich Hill as a starter. He gave up two runs off of four hits and was pulled after three innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He then surrendered four runs off of seven hits in only 4.2 innings in the following start.

Joey and the Padres need to find a way to capitalize off of those poor stats.

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The Padres vs. Dodgers series will begin on Thursday, July 4 at 6:10 PM PT/9:10 PM ET. For complete coverage on the San Diego Padres’ 2019 season, continue following Friars on Base all season long.