San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers: Series Preview

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 05: Francisco Mejia #27 of the San Diego Padres looks back for the ball as Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides past to score, to tie the game 2-2, during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 05: Francisco Mejia #27 of the San Diego Padres looks back for the ball as Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides past to score, to tie the game 2-2, during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers will face off for the fourth time this season. How do they match up this time around?

Things were very different the last time the San Diego Padres played in LA. After taking three out of four from the Los Angeles Dodgers on their home turf, the Friars rolled into the All-Star break at a cool 45-45. The hype was high, spirits were good, and playoff talks were bountiful.

Oh, how things have changed.

The Padres haven’t won a series since then and sit at 50-57 for 4th place in the National League West. At the beginning of this month, they had gotten as close as one game out of playoff contention — now they’re 6.5 games back with six teams in line ahead of them.

The Padres have gone 5-12 since that series in LA. Their offense has looked flat and the pitching nonexistent. They even split the two-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, giving up a 4-0 lead in Game 2 to fall 5-8 on the afternoon. It’s been a rough stretch for San Diego.

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Don’t expect things to get any easier, too. The Dodgers are still cruising, posting an MLB-best record of 71-39. They’re the only team to reach 70 wins thus far and are 6-4 in their last 10. They also have a +165 run differential, the best in baseball.

If the Padres couldn’t bounce back against the Orioles, the San Francisco Giants, or the Miami Marlins, then this will be a very tall obstacle to clear. Crazier things have happened though, and divisional games are never are a gimme.

Let’s take a look at the expected pitching battles over this four-game series.

Game 1

Joey Lucchesi will get the nod and face off against Clayton Kershaw in the series opener.

Kershaw is still Kershaw, posting a 9-2 record with a 2.85 ERA and 1.107 WHIP. He’s coming off a strong performance against the Washington Nationals where he gave up only two runs in six innings pitched. He’s allowed only three earned runs over his last 18 innings.

The eight-time All-Star hasn’t been his best against San Diego this season, even though his stat line might say otherwise. In his three starts against the Padres, Kershaw has given up eight runs off 16 hits with four home runs, posting a 3.15 ERA and a .950 WHIP. However, his last outing featured only two runs allowed in seven innings pitched.

Lucchesi will certainly have his work cut out for him, and he’s going to need to be on his game. While he’s coming off a good start against the Giants, the second-year pitcher has faced some difficulties. He’s allowed 12 runs over his last 21.2 innings pitched, emphasized by a six-run, 4.1 inning outing against the Chicago Cubs where he walked three batters and struck out three.

Overall though, Lucchesi has been one of the Padres better pitchers and his development has been exciting to watch. He’s 7-5 this season with a 4.12 ERA and 1.177 WHIP. If he can continue to go deep into games and just become more consistent, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Game 2

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Eric Lauer will take the mound for the San Diego Padres in Game 2, while Dustin May will represent the Dodgers.

May will be making his MLB debut on Friday night. He’s spent the past three seasons in LA’s minor league system, most recently with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers. His 2019 minor league stats include a 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 6-5 record over 20 games started.

For the Padres, talk about another struggling pitcher. Lauer is 5-8 this season with a 4.52 ERA and 1.395 WHIP. His last three starts have been awful, giving up 12 runs over just 17 innings pitched. Most recently, Lauer allowed four runs to score in his first three innings against the New York Mets — he wouldn’t make it out of the inning.

It feels like there’s a battle for a 2020 rotation spot between Lauer and Lucchesi; as of right now, Lucchesi has the advantage. If Lauer can’t pick himself back up sometime soon, he’ll likely see himself fall further and further down the roster.

Game 3

The Dodgers will roll (walk?) with Walker Buehler, while the Padres will go with Cal Quantrill.

Despite being voted into the 2019 All-Star game, Buehler is having a pretty average season stat-wise. He’s 9-2 on the season with a 3.38 ERA and 1.030 WHIP.

His last two games have been on both ends of the spectrum, tossing seven scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins then giving up seven runs in 5.1 innings pitched the next week against the Washington Nationals. Which version of Buehler will the Padres face on Saturday?

Meanwhile, Quantrill is coming off seven days rest as he hasn’t played since June 27 against the Giants. The rookie has played very well as of late, posting a 3.57 ERA and 1.190 WHIP for a 4-2 record this season.

Initially a starter, Quantrill was moved to the pen where he thrived for four games. He gave up only one run in 5.2 innings pitched in relief.

As the Padres starting rotation began to crumble, however, he was forced back into a starting role where he’s continued to dominate.

Now, Quantrill is coming off a 5.1 inning game where he allowed only run while striking out four batters and walking four more. He’ll look to build off his performance that has boosted the rotation, and if he can continue providing strong innings then he’ll have a chance to cement his status as a starter moving forward.

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Game 4

This will be a fun one as we get a rematch of the July 6 game between Chris Paddack and Kenta Maeda in which the Padres won 3-1. The game was a scoreless duel until the Friars got on the board in the top of the seventh.

Maeda is 7-8 this season with a 4.07 ERA and 1.101 WHIP. His second half performance has been less than stellar, posting a 5.82 ERA through three games since the All-Star break.

Maeda’s last two outings have been particularly rough as he’s been unable to make it out of the fourth both times, giving up a combined 9 runs over 8.1 innings pitched.

Meanwhile, we all know about Chris Paddack at this point as he’s been on an absolute tear this season. Through his first 100 major league innings pitched, Paddack is 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA and 0.897 WHIP.

His innings and pitch count are still being managed, and that’s unlikely to change as the Padres find themselves further and further away from playoff contention. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the rookie wants to cement himself at the top of the starting rotation moving forward, and so far he’s earned it.

The Padres at Dodgers series will begin on Thursday, August 1 at 7:10 PM PT/10:10 PM ET.

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For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres 2019 season, continue following Friars on Base all season long.