The Los Angeles Dodgers have once again been the toast of the NL West with an extremely comfortable lead in the division. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres are hoping to finally get on track in order to make a push towards the playoffs. All of this sets up what should be an entertaining matchup on Friday night.
Padres hoping to snap skid south
The Padres have continued to titter just below the .500 mark as the season has worn on that has kept them on the outside looking for the postseason picture. It hasn’t helped their cause that they have dropped six out of their last 10 games played that have pushed them 6.5 games behind both NL wildcard spots. Things have been far more sparse in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers being 20.5 games ahead of San Diego. Much of which has come in the way of their offense struggling to produce at an effective level throughout the season. The Padres have assembled a roster that has plenty of proven and young talent that should be elevating them to much higher effectiveness at the plate this season. Instead, San Diego is currently ranked 24th in runs scored, 26th in hits, last in doubles, 26th in batting average, and 24th in on-base percentage. The Padres have had bright spots along their roster with their core.
Rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been their most productive bat since being called up the majors as he’s hitting .329 with 19 home runs, 45 RBI, 54 runs scored, and a .992 OPS in 73 games played this season. Tatis Jr. has been a huge spark plug through their offensive shortcomings this season that has given them any hope of being able to contend for the playoffs at this point in the year. However, the difference in the contest could be the play of Eric Lauer, who has struggled this year holding a 5-8 record with a 4.52 ERA, .275 opposing batting average, and 108 hits allowed in 20 games played with 19 starts. Lauer has been atrocious on the road where he holds a 2-5 record with a 6.61 ERA, a .294 opposing batting average, and 57 hits allowed over 47.2 innings pitched in 10 starts. With a matchup against one of the best offenses in the league, it sets the table to what could be a highly difficult outing for him on the road that could quickly sway things in Los Angeles’ favor on Friday night.
Dodgers cruising toward the playoffs
The trade deadline had largely come and gone on Wednesday afternoon with the Dodgers making just one move prior to its passing. However, there isn’t much concern from Los Angeles being the clear-cut frontrunners in the NL cruising their way to yet another NL West division title, holding the largest lead in the league being at least 15.0 games ahead of each of the other teams in their division. Beyond their bullpen issues, the Dodgers hold one of the most complete teams that has been fueled by their depth all across the roster. This has become quite evident behind stellar play of rookie catcher Will Smith, who has made the most of his time in the majors this season as he once again showed off his tremendous upside on Thursday night, hitting a game-changing grand slam to shift things in the Dodgers’ favor in the sixth inning of what turned out to be a 9-2 win.
Smith has gotten off to a historic start in his first 14 games in the majors as he’s batting .349 with six home runs, 19 RBI, eight runs scored, and a 1.280 OPS. In fact, his grand slam has given him the fourth-most RBI in the first 14 games of a career since 1920 when this became an official statistic in the MLB. His play has a huge benefit for the Dodgers, who have struggled to get production from the catcher position this year with both Russell Martin and Austin Barnes struggling to provide it together. Beyond that, it has seen a career-best campaign from star outfielder Cody Bellingerthat has him well in the mix for the NL MVP award as he’s batting .335 with 35 home runs, 83 RBI, 88 runs scored, and a 1.109 OPS through the first 106 games played. Bellinger hit his 35th home run of the season in Thursday’s win that has further added to his impressive year. Their offensive production should help lighten the load with standout rookie pitcher Dustin May set to make his major-league debut on Friday night. All of this sets up what should be another one-sided contest with the Dodgers grabbing a comfortable win over their NL West division rival.
- Dodgers are 6-1 in their last seven games against a team with a losing record.
- Dodgers are 4-1 in their last five contests when their opponent allows five runs or more in their previous game.
- Dodgers are 40-13 in their last 53 home games.
- Padres are 2-5 in Lauer’s last seven starts when their opponent scores five runs or more in their previous game.
- Padres are 1-4 in Lauer’s last five road starts.
- Padres are 1-5 in Lauer’s last six starts with four days of rest.