After making a flurry of trades to upgrade the roster, Padres owner Peter Seidler said the Dodgers are “the dragon up the freeway that we’re trying to slay.”
Well, the Padres will get their chance, as the division rivals are set to face off 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 the 19 meetings.
Los Angeles, which had five days off since the end of the regular season, was the best team in the Majors in 2022, becoming just the fifth team in MLB history to win at least 111 games. The Dodgers, who have home-field advantage throughout 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 picked up over the past few years. It’ll surely be taken to a different level in what promises to be a thrilling five-game series.
“We’ve been playing playoff games for basically the whole last month,” said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. “We know the Dodgers well. They’re a phenomenal team. But there’s only four teams left in the National League. We’re one of them. We’ll be ready to go.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. PT on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. It will be televised on FS1.
All games are available in the US on MLB.TV (authentication to a participating Pay TV provider is required). Live games are also available in select countries outside the US. For full details click here.
What are the starting lineups?
Padres: After they faced three righties in New York, the Padres have some different decisions to make against a Dodgers rotation loaded with left-handers. But their lineup ended up looking fairly similar. The switch-hitting Jurickson Profar has been so good in the leadoff spot that he stays there even though he’s generally better from the left side. Brandon Drury, who owns left-handed pitching, will bat cleanup and DH, with Wil Myers getting the nod at first over Josh Bell.
Dodgers: The top four in the order are no surprise. That’s whom the Dodgers will rely on most. At the bottom, Trayce Thompson will start in left as Chris Taylor continues to get healthy. Cody Bellinger gets the start in center field because his elite defense is too valuable.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Padres: The Game 1 nod for the Padres goes to Mike Clevinger (7-7, 4.33 ERA), who started Game 1 of the NLDS the last time the Padres and Dodgers met there in 2020, trying to pitch through an elbow injury. He was lifted after just one inning and -- a month later -- would undergo Tommy John surgery that cost him his ‘21 campaign. Since his return, Clevinger’s starts have been a mixed bag. But in his final outing of the season, Clevinger pitched six innings of one-run ball against the White Sox, putting the Padres on the cusp of their playoff clinch. Then, he was left off the Wild Card Series roster while battling a non-COVID illness. Yu Darvish will start Game 2 for San Diego on Wednesday night.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Padres: Generally speaking, the Padres look to ride their starting pitchers as much as possible. Their formula for success typically includes a short bridge to closer Josh Hader. Robert Suarez and Luis García have emerged as the two primary setup men for Hader, with Nick Martínez also asked to cover some high-leverage innings. Tim Hill, who went unused against the Mets, would be the first choice against a tough left-hander.
Dodgers: With Craig Kimbrel no longer the closer, the Dodgers will deploy their bullpen in unique ways all postseason. Evan Phillips, Yency Almonte, Tommy Kahnle, Brusdar Graterol, Alex Vesia and Chris Martin will be the key relievers. Blake Treinen and Dustin May would also be big parts if they make it back from injury and onto the NLDS roster.
Any injuries of note?
Dodgers: Taylor missed the last five games of the regular season due to neck stiffness. He was expected to take live at-bats on Sunday and Monday, and the Dodgers remain hopeful he’ll be on the roster. Treinen (right shoulder tightness) and May (low back tightness) have each thrown in simulated games over the past few days.
Who is hot and who is not?
Padres: Grisham, who owned the sport’s lowest batting average among all qualifiers during the regular season, reached base in eight of his 12 Wild Card Series plate appearances -- including homers off both Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. Kim, meanwhile, reached at a .500 clip. On the other side of things, Cronenworth went hitless with six strikeouts in 13 at-bats in New York.
Dodgers: Freeman has been hot all season, coming up just shy of winning the NL batting title. Following his return to Atlanta on June 27, Freeman has a .342 average in 88 games. Bellinger has struggled all year, but the former NL MVP closed out the regular season going 9-for-20 with two homers, albeit against the last-place Rockies.
On the flip side, Joey Gallo hasn’t been able to put together consistent at-bats, which could affect his playing time in the postseason. Gallo went 2-for-24 with 15 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
Anything else fans might want to know?
• This is only the second postseason meeting between the two division rivals, with the first coming in 2020, a 3-0 sweep by the Dodgers. Because that series happened at a neutral site, this will be the first time the two teams will play a postseason series at Dodger Stadium and Petco Park.
• When the series does return to Petco Park on Friday night, it will mark the first time the Padres have hosted a playoff game with fans in attendance since 2006.
• Having already bested Scherzer, Soto will get a reunion with another of his teammates on the 2019 World Series champion Nationals -- Trea Turner. Last year, Soto was in attendance for the NLDS in Los Angeles -- as a fan, rooting for Scherzer, then a Dodger, and Turner.