The National League’s fifth seed, the San Diego Padres, and the top-seeded LA Dodgers, runaway winners in the West, open their best-of-five divisional round series Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are listed as the favorite to win this series (-210 DraftKings) and advance to the National League Championship Series against the winner of the matchup between Philadelphia and Atlanta. The Padres are at +182 (FanDuel).
Padres vs. Dodgers Game 1 Lines
In the first two games, both at Dodger Stadium, LA is expected to start Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw, but in no particular order as of Monday. Urias is 3-0 vs. SD this season. Kershaw didn’t have a decision in two starts vs. the Padres, but yielded one run in 12 innings.
San Diego, fresh off a 2-1 series win over the New York Mets in the wild-card round that ended Sunday, burned through its top three starters over the weekend (Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove) and will go with righty Mike Clevinger on Tuesday.
The Dodgers are sizable favorite to take the series opener, listed between -215 and -225 at sportsbook apps around the country.
The Dodgers (111-51) have dominated the Padres (89-75) the past seven regular seasons, with a cumulative mark of 83-41, including 14-5 this season while outscoring San Diego, 109-47. And that record dating to 2016 doesn’t include LA’s three-game sweep of the Padres in the NLDS two seasons ago en route to winning the World Series.
Also, LA’s 22-game victory differential over the second-place Padres in the standings this year is the greatest margin for any team in this round. Last season, though, LA had an 18-win margin over Atlanta and lost to the Braves in the NLCS 4 games to 2.
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Padres vs. Dodgers Pitching Matchup
As one would suspect, the Dodgers have had a clear statistical edge over the Padres this season — over almost all teams for that matter — in most pitching categories. The staff’s ERA of 2.80 leads the league and is more than a run better than San Diego’s (3.81). The Dodgers also held foes to a league-low .209 batting average. The Padres hit .193 against them.
And how’s this for depth? Tyler Anderson, who was 15-5 with a 2.57 ERA, is the LA’s third starter at best this round and in 24 innings against San Diego this year was 2-0 and allowed only 15 hits. And then there’s Tony Gonsolin (16-1, 2.14), who missed almost six weeks at the end of the season with a right forearm strain. He seems a good candidate to come out of the bullpen at midgame if needed.
Darvish will almost surely pitch in Game 2 on four-days’ rest. Snell or Musgrove are the logical options for Game 3 on Friday in San Diego.
And about that bullpen: Dodgers relievers had the best ERA in the National League.
And more about Game 1: The Dodgers are laying larger than 2-to-1 odds for Tuesday night’s opener, but they are going against Clevinger, who was 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA this season but pitched horribly against LA in three starts this year. He was 0-2 in lasting only 13 innings and gave up five homers and 14 runs.
Darvish, meanwhile, has been sensational of late, but he’ll only get one start in this series. In addition to pitching seven innings of scoreless ball vs. NYM on Friday, a month earlier he also pitched seven innings of two-hit ball vs. the Dodgers on Sept. 2. And back in April, he yielded one hit in six innings against them.
Musgrove would be a wise choice to get the ball in Game 3 after he pitched seven innings Sunday and gave up one hit in the series clincher. But since LA hit worse against lefties than righties, maybe lefty Snell gets the call.
At the Plate
Again, LA rates an edge on offense. It had the league’s fourth-best batting average, led by Freddie Freeman. He hit .325 in just missing out on the hitting title. San Diego was 16th in hitting. Manny Machado led the way for SD with a .298 mark and a team-best 32 homers and 102 RBIs.
On top of that, LA hit 57 more homers than San Diego.
Padres vs Dodgers NLDS Prediction
As discussed, the Dodgers rate a huge edge with a rested rotation and a bullpen that’s the best in the business. And their offense, which scored a league-best 847 runs, should more than compensate for any shortcomings on the mound.
And if the series is pushed to five games, that would mean the Dodgers would have their No. 1 starter going against San Diego’s No. 4 guy a second time. Good luck with that, Padres.
Forecast: Dodgers in 4.