After making a series of trades to improve the roster, Padres owner Peter Seidler said the Dodgers are “the dragon on the freeway that we’re trying to kill.”
Well, the Padres will get their chance as the division rivals go head-to-head in the National League Division Series on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
The Padres are coming off an emotional three-game battle against the Mets in the NL Wild Card Series. They’ll look to build on that momentum against the Dodgers, a team that dominated the regular-season series, winning 14 of 19 matches.
Los Angeles, which had five days off since the end of the regular season, topped the majors in 2022 and became only the fifth team in MLB history to win at least 111 games. The Dodgers, who enjoy home field advantage during the postseason, won 57 games at Dodger Stadium during the regular season.
With the Padres improving each season and the Dodgers serving as the class of the NL West, this rivalry has increased in recent years. It will surely be taken to another level in an exciting five-game series.
“We’ve been playing playoff games for practically the last month,” said Padre’s general manager AJ Preller. “We know the Dodgers well. You are a phenomenal team. But there are only four teams left in the National League. We are one of them. We will be ready to go.”
When is the game and how can I see it?
Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:37 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. It will be broadcast on FS1.
All series are available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication from a participating pay-TV provider. Games are not available live internationally. (Archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.)
What could the starting line-ups look like?
Father: After facing three right-handers in New York, the Padres have some other decisions to make against a Dodgers rotation loaded with left-handers. But their lineup could end up looking pretty similar. Switch-battling Jurickson Profar was so good from the starting position that it’s hard to imagine him getting dropped (although he’s generally better from the left). It’s possible Brandon Drury, who possesses left-handed pitching, will get a chance to shine.
Dodgers: The first four in order are no surprise. That’s what the Dodgers will rely on the most. At the bottom, Trayce Thompson will start on the left while Chris Taylor continues to recover. Cody Bellinger gets the midfield start because his elite defense is too valuable.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Father: The Game 1 nod for the Padres goes to Mike Clevinger (7-7, 4.33 ERA), who started Game 1 of the NLDS when the Padres and Dodgers last met there in 2020 and attempted to recover through an elbow injury to beat. He was jacked up after just an inning and — a month later — he would have Tommy John surgery that cost him his 21st campaign. Since his return, Clevinger’s starts have been mixed. But in his final game of the season, Clevinger threw six innings of one-run ball against the White Sox, putting the Padres on the brink of their playoff clinch. He was then removed from the Wild Card Series roster while battling a non-COVID disease. Yu Darvish starts Wednesday night’s Game 2 for San Diego.
Dodgers: Julio Urías (17-7, 2.16 ERA) will get the start in Game 1, while Clayton Kershaw (12-3, 2.28) is scheduled for Game 2. Urías went 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts against the Padres season, and Kershaw went 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts against them.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Father: In general, the Padres try to drive their starting pitchers as often as possible. Their recipe for success typically involves a short bridge to the closer Josh Hader. Robert Suarez and Luis García have emerged as the two primary setup men for Hader, with Nick Martínez also being asked to cover a few high-leverage innings. Tim Hill, unused against the Mets, would be the top pick against a hard-hitting left-hander.
Dodgers: Taylor missed the last five games of the regular season due to a stiff neck. He was expected to take live-at-bats Sunday and Monday and the Dodgers remain hopeful he will be on the list. Treinen (right shoulder tension) and May (lower back tension) have each been throwing in simulated games for the past few days.
Who is hot and who isn’t?
Father: Grisham, who owned the sport’s lowest batting average of any regular-season qualifier, hit base in eight of his 12 Wild Card Series plate appearances — including homers from Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. Kim, meanwhile, hit a clip of .500. On the other hand, Cronenworth stayed hitless with six strikeouts in 13 at-bats in New York.
Dodgers: Freeman has been hot all season and was close to winning the NL title in batting. After his return to Atlanta on June 27, Freeman has an .342 average in 88 games. Bellinger struggled all year, but the former NL MVP finished the regular season 9-on-20 with two homers, albeit against the bottom-seeded Rockies.
On the other hand, Joey Gallo was unable to put together consistent at-bats, which could affect his postseason playing time. Gallo went 2-for-24 with 15 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
Is there anything else fans would like to know?
• This is only the second postseason meeting between the two division rivals, the first coming in 2020, a 3-0 win over the Dodgers. Because this series was held at a neutral venue, this will mark the first time the two teams will play a postseason series at Dodger Stadium and Petco Park.
• When the series returns to Petco Park on Friday night, it will be the first time since 2006 that the Padres have hosted a playoff game with fans in attendance.
• Having already defeated Scherzer, Soto will have a reunion with another of his teammates from the 2019 World Series Champions – Trea Turner. Last year, Soto was in attendance at the NLDS in Los Angeles — as a fan who cheered for Scherzer, then Dodger, and Turner.