It seems like just days ago the Dodgers were in San Diego. Actually, it was. They were in San Diego for a 3 game series May 3rd through May 5th. The Dodgers took 2 out of 3 in San Diego, but it was decidedly more competitive, along with a walk off grand-slam for the Padres in the last game of the series.
This short 2-game series should bring some of the same competitive fire, but with some differences. This series is in the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium. We can refer to Petco Park as “Dodger Stadium south” all we want, but it’s nice to be back at home.
Let’s break down the pitching matchups, as well as some interesting notes for the new-look Padres.
Tuesday May 14th, 2019
Chris Paddack v. Clayton Kershaw
This is a matchup everyone seems to be talking about. Andy Green himself is singing his young righty’s praises. The moniker “The Next Clayton Kershaw” was even dropped here.
Chris Paddack (3-1, 1.55 ERA, "the next Clayton Kershaw")
Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 3.31 ERA, the current Clayton Kershaw)
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) May 13, 2019
Chris Paddack has had a sensational start to his rookie campaign. He has posted a 2.30 FIP, with a 0.689 WHIP, and has 46 strikeouts in 40 innings. These numbers are genuinely striking. To dub him “The Next Kershaw” is hilariously premature, but you can’t blame the Padres to have hype around their young phenom.
The Dodgers have not faced Paddack, so we should temper expectations. It takes any professional team of hitters some time to see the ball and what the pitcher is throwing. It could be a tough night for the Dodgers, but luckily they have Clayton Kershaw on the hill.
King Kershaw’s velocity, his 2019 performance, and all of the results that Clayton Kershaw is measured against have been discussed ad nauseam, so I won’t parse them again. Suffice to say, Kershaw has still been effective. His FIP is 3.75 to go along with his .980 WHIP. That FIP is a bit high, but it is still early/mid May. Let’s see how the Padres hitters have fared against Clayton.
The Padre batters are hot and cold vs. Kershaw. The ones who have struggled against him have really struggled. The guys who have hit him have hit him pretty hard.
Every Dodger fan has fresh in their mind the home run that Manny Machado hit off him just days ago. Eric Hosmer’s success against Kershaw surprised me, being that he’s lefty and that he’s just not been great in San Diego except early this year. Wil Myers is a miserable 3 for 29 against Kershaw, so look for him to hit lower in the lineup or have the day off.
The Dodgers are going to need keep their feet back, literally. Paddack has a tremendous changeup that he throws 32.5% of the time. The Dodgers have historically (in the last few years) struggled against the changeup. They’ll have to see the fastball out of the hand to have success. Luckily, Paddack is a right handed pitcher, and the Dodgers have a bit more leeway with their lineup against righties.
Wednesday May 15th, 2019
Matt Strahm v. Kenta Maeda
Kenta Maeda has been very up and down in 2019. In his previous start against San Diego, Maeda went 6 innings and surrendered 4 earned runs, with 3 BB’s and 6 K’s. Those walks are a little high, and obviously we’d love to see him surrender less than 4 runs. Is it terrible? Not really, but Kenta has better stuff than those results show. Let’s see how the Friars hitters have fared versus Kenta.
Some of the Padres definitely have some good experience against him. Overall, Kenta has good numbers against the Padres. He eats up righties most of the time, and this could be very beneficial. Even Eric Hosmer, who is a lefty, has struggled against Kenta Maeda.
Matt Strahm has done pretty well in his starting role. He was previously a bullpen arm for the Padres. In 39 innings he’s posted a 3.00 ERA, a 3.32 FIP, and a 1.103 WHIP in 2019. Let’s see how the Dodgers have faced against him.
Nobody has more than 2 at bats against Strahm, and of course Max Muncy has the lone home run. It’s very different seeing a guy out of the bullpen versus seeing him as a starter. I predict the Dodgers hit Strahm pretty hard after one time through the order.
Dodger Batters To Watch Out For
Max Muncy has been swinging a hot bat. He has odd reverse splits, so I’m not worried about the left versus lefty matchup. Justin Turner has obviously been swinging a hot bat and will look to continue to do so. Muncy, Turner, should have two good games, as they’re probable to start both.
The Padres are no longer the lowly division team the Dodgers can automatically assume they will push around. They have a legitimate lineup. Their pitching isn’t elite, but they have just enough scrappy changeup happy pitchers, to give the Dodgers a hard time. The Dodgers have to treat these two games as must wins. They’re at home, and despite being improved, the Padres are not elite. Therefore, look for the Dodgers bats to come alive at Chavez Ravine.