LOS ANGELES -- The first battle between the Dodgers and Padres exceeded all expectations, which was hard to do given that it was hyped up for months. Now it’s time to do it again. This time, a four-game set at Dodger Stadium beginning on Thursday.
The Dodgers tried to downplay any talk about a rivalry before the first meeting between the two teams at Petco Park. But after an epic three-game series, it was quite clear that the energy in the ballpark didn’t resemble a normal April series, and that this was, in fact, a budding rivalry.
These are two of the most talented teams in the Majors. But most importantly, they don’t like each other, and they’ll be battling all season long. That’s where the fun kicks in.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming series between the division rivals.
What took place in the first series?
The Dodgers won two of three last weekend in San Diego, but all three games were decided by late-inning heroics.
On Friday, the two teams played in the best game of the early season, an 11-6 Dodgers win in 12 innings. The game had a little bit of everything, including Jake Cronenworth pitching, David Price pitching in back-to-back games for the first time in his career and Joe Musgrove getting an appearance in left field. Oh, and a benches-clearing incident after Dennis Santana plunked Jorge Mateo in the 10th inning.
How do the starting pitching rotations line up?
Padres: Ryan Weathers, who made his first career start on Friday against the Dodgers, will remain in the rotation for now and start the series opener. Weathers fared well in his first start, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. With a taxed bullpen, San Diego might need more out of the left-hander on Thursday.
The Padres will then turn to their top three starters over the weekend. Darvish gets the ball on Friday, Snell goes on Saturday and Musgrove gets the ball on Sunday. Darvish and Snell combined to give up just three runs over 12 innings in the first series. The Dodgers get their first look at Musgrove in the series finale.
Dodgers: It’ll be more of the same for Los Angeles, as it turns to Walker Buehler, Kershaw and Bauer in the first three games. The Dodgers’ top three starters all pitched six innings in the previous series, allowing three total runs.
Dustin May gets the ball on Sunday. In three starts, May is 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA and has also seen an uptick in strikeouts this season, punching out 22 batters in 15 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers will benefit from Wednesday’s off-day, as each starter will be pitching on extra days’ rest.
Injuries of note
Padres: Manny Machado is dealing with minor shoulder and back troubles, which came to the fore during Friday’s game against the Dodgers -- but he’s been able to play through them. Trent Grisham was sidelined for a couple days with left quad tightness, but he has also made his way back into the lineup.
Wil Myers has patellar tendinitis in his right knee, though it’s gotten much better over the past few days and he had a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday against the Brewers. He should be good to go, but he’s been out of the lineup in four of the Padres’ last eight games.
Dodgers: Los Angeles has also been depleted with injuries in the early part of its season. Betts took a 96 mph fastball to his right forearm in Monday’s game against the Mariners and was forced to sit out on Tuesday. The good news is that X-rays were negative on Betts, and the expectation is that he’ll be back in the Dodgers’ lineup on Thursday.
What to watch for
Padres: San Diego is going to need Fernando Tatis Jr. to hit his stride. Since returning from the injured list, Tatis has not looked like himself at the plate -- going 3-for-21 -- or at shortstop. If the Padres want to snap out of their recent funk, they’ll need better production out of their star.
Dodgers: It’s only April, but Los Angeles has a great opportunity to create separation atop the division. The Dodgers come into the series with a five-game lead over the Padres. That could balloon up to nine games with a sweep. If they take three of four, the lead would be seven.