This Padres-Dodgers rivalry is shaping up to be the best in baseball.
Los Angeles, which has had a stranglehold on the NL West for nearly a decade, brought San Diego back to earth in the closing days of the offseason, signing reigning National League Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to a record-breaking three-year contract.
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Of course, the Padres have since countered by locking up the best young player in the game for 14 years, but, I mean, who’s really keeping track, right? We’ll be talking about this rivalry all season long (and likely for years to come). One smaller storyline to keep an eye on? The grudge match between Bauer and slugging third baseman Manny Machado.
Padres: Manny has had Bauer’s number
In their limited matchups, the Padres slugger has dominated Bauer.
- 10-for-17 (.588), including four home runs
Now, most of those matchups came back when Machado was a member of the Orioles and Bauer the Indians. But apparently the Dodgers right-hander is well aware of how he’s fared in the past.
"It hasn’t been too competitive. Basically, I set him up for this moment. I faced him only once or twice a year when he was in Baltimore and I was in Cleveland. We haven’t been in the same division but now that we are, I saved my best stuff and I saved it all for now. He had his time, this is my time. I’ll flip that script real quick."
Uh huh. OK.
Machado is one of the best hitters in the league. Last season, he was an NL MVP finalist after he threw up a career-best .950 OPS in 254 plate appearances. Bauer is coming off an impressive, although shortened 2020 season in which he posted a 1.73 ERA and 0.795 WHIP across 73 innings.
It should make for one of those just-under-the-surface storylines that causes all kinds of Twitter drama when San Diego and Los Angeles hooks horns this season. Personally? I’m looking forward to the bat flip of all bat flips when Machado takes Bauer deep in a big spot.