The season is winding down and playoff positioning is up for grabs. While the Dodgers have cooled off a bit, they were still able to take two out of three from the Cubs. Surprisingly, the Dodgers’ only loss came at the expense of Clayton Kershaw, who wasn’t his usual self against one of the worst teams in baseball.
The Dodgers still hold a comfortable lead in the NL West as the Diamondbacks are 9.5 games back, but they’ll face each other seven more times before season’s end.
More importantly is the chase for the NL’s best record as the Dodgers are still chasing the Atlanta Braves and are only three games back. The Dodgers only have 29 games remaining and while 26 of them will be against the NL West it favors them and they’ll be in control of their own playoff destiny.
Now the San Diego Padres are coming to Los Angeles and they’ll face the Dodgers in a three game series at Chavez Ravine.
The Padres are currently in fourth place in the NL West with a 60-73 record and while 2013 hasn’t been good, they’re terrible on the road. This season, the Padres are 24-41 away from Petco Park and it’s imperative that the Dodgers take advantage of playing teams under .500 down the stretch.
Not much is at stake for the Padres the rest of the season, but beating the Dodgers would definitely make the sting of 2013 much better.
Here are the keys to the series:
The offense has been a bit inconsistent and the Dodgers need to find some stability as they approach the postseason. As of late, Adrian Gonzalez has struggled and in his last 20 at bats, he’s only recorded two hits. Gonzalez has been the offensive anchor and the most consistent hitter all season and the Dodgers need him to be effective over the weekend.
Yasiel Puig has had some hiccups recently, but he has played very well against the Padres as he’s 9-28 with three home runs and it’s another great opportunity for him to get his groove back.
Lasty, the Ellis combo of AJ and Mark were integral parts of their historic run, but their numbers have slipped as of late. AJ is 1 for 11 and Mark is 1 for 16 in the last seven days. Although they’re not expected to put up star numbers, they do need to step-up with runners in scoring position.
2. Contain Will Venable
The Padres offense is not much of a threat, but Will Venable has been very good recently. In the last six games Venable is hitting .519 average, seven runs batted in, and three homers. If the Dodgers can keep Venable quiet and keep him off the bases, Ryu and the rest of the pitching staff should be able to contain the Padres weak offense.
3. Don’t overlook the Padres
On paper the Padres should be no threat to the Dodgers, but given they’re division rivals, don’t expect the Padres to lay back and not put up a fight. The Dodgers must treat each game from now as if it were a playoff game. It’s time for the Dodgers to develop a killer instinct and not take their foot off the gas even though they’re playing an inferior opponent.
The Dodgers are too good to lose a game to the Padres and they’ll sweep San Diego and continue to pressure the Atlanta Braves for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.