Monday, February 26, 2024
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MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers (19-14) at San Diego Padres (18-15)

LOS ANGELES DODGERS NOTES:

SHAKE IT OFF: The Dodgers had their season-high six-game winning streak snapped last night as the club fell to the Padres, 5-2. Dodger starter Clayton Kershaw saw his personal four-game win streak snapped as the lefthander uncharacteristically walked five hitters, his most in a game since issuing five free passes on Aug. 1, 2019 vs. San Diego at Dodger Stadium. That ended up being a theme last night with the bullpen going on to walk an additional six batters on the way to a season high 11 walks given up by the Dodger staff. Things weren’t too much better on the offensive side as Los Angeles managed just four hits and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers have won 10 of their last 14 contests and this evening continue their road trip (0-1) with the middle contest of their three-game series with the rival Padres at 5:40 p.m. Following the weekend series, which includes tomorrow night’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball tilt, the Boys in Blue will head to Milwaukee and begin a three-game set with the Brewers at American Family Field on Monday night. Los Angeles is in first place in the National League West, 0.5 game ahead of the Diamondbacks and 1.0 game up on the third-place Padres. Kershaw did strike out seven batters last night and is now tied with Hall of Famer Jim Bunning for 21st on the all-time strikeout list with 2,855.

THE NEXT CHAPTER: The Dodgers clobbered the Padres in the regular season last year, going 14-5, including a 5-3 mark at Petco Park. Over the last three seasons, Los Angeles is 26-13 (.667) vs. San Diego during the regular season. Since 2017, the Boys in Blue are 72-34 against the Padres with a 34-19 (.642) record away from home. Despite the recent regular season domination, the Padres beat the Dodgers in the NLDS last season. 3-1. The Dodgers are 7-7 in 2023 and 61-29 (.678) against the National League West dating back to last season. The Dodgers have posted nine straight winning seasons against the National League West division, including four 50+ win seasons against their NL West foes (2014, 2019, 2021-22). Since 2014, the Dodgers are 414-249 (.624) against the NL West.

MAX IN OVERDRIVE: Dodger third baseman Max Muncy went 0-for-3 with an RBI groundout last night and still leads the Major Leagues with 12 home runs while ranking among the big league leaders in RBI (28, T-5th), walks (24, T-4th), slugging percentage (.621, 3rd) and OPS (1.009, 9th). Muncy has 16-career home runs vs. the Padres, including six at Petco Park. Muncy’s 12 home runs in the Dodgers’ first 33 games are tied for the third most in L.A. Dodger history at this point of the season:

LAD HOME RUNS THROUGH FIRST 33 TEAM GAMES – 1958-2023
Cody Bellinger, 2019 14
Raul Mondesi, 1999 13
Max Muncy, 2023 12
Matt Kemp, 2012 12
Ron Cey, 1977 12
Jim Wynn, 1974 12
Frank Howard, 1964 12

BIG RED: Dodger right-hander Dustin May is seeking his career best fourth win of the season tonight and he will have to do it against a team that has been a thorn in his side. May has nine-career losses and four of those have come against the San Diego Padres. In 10 games (seven starts), he is 1-4 with a 3.88 ERA (20 ER/46.1 IP) and 43 strikeouts vs. San Diego. May’s 0.99 WHIP ranks seventh in the National League and his .168 opponents’ average (19-for-119) ranks second. The native of Texas boasts an opponents’ OPS of .517, which is tied with Zac Gallen for second in the league, trailing only Spencer Strider (.488).

THE ROOK: The reigning Rookie of the Month James Outman went 0-for-3 last night, but still leads all rookies in runs scored (22-tied), triples (3), extra-base hits (16), total bases (64) and OPS (.955). Outman ranks third with 21 RBI, a .282 batting average and a .373 OBP.

THE OTHER ONE: Dodger rookie infielder Miguel Vargas went 1-for-3 with his second triple of the year last night and is hitting .500 (6-for-12) with four runs scored, five RBI, three doubles, a triple and a homer in his last three games. Vargas did not drive in a run last night, snapping his four-game RBI streak, which matched a Dodger season high.

LONG BALLS: The Dodgers didn’t hit a home run last night for just the eighth time this season and now trail the Atlanta Braves (55) by one for the most home runs in the National League. Tampa Bay leads the Majors with a whopping 69 long balls. The Dodgers have recorded 3+ homers in 10 games this season, which ranks second in baseball, trailing only the Rays (12). The Dodgers are second in the League with 25 games with at least one homer, behind the Rays (30), who have homered in all but three games this season.

TONIGHT’S STARTER vs. PADRES: RHP DUSTIN MAY (3-1, 3.15 ERA in 6 GS)
2023 NOTES:
• Notched his third win of the season in his last start against the Cardinals, tossing 5.0 innings, allowing two runs on three hits…He threw a career-high 104 pitches in the outing

• Ranks seventh in the National League in WHIP at 0.99 and second in the NL in opponents’ batting average at .168

• Texas native took the mound in five games (four starts) during Cactus League play, posting a 5-4 record with 2.95 ERA (6 ER/18.1 IP) and 20
strikeouts against just seven walks…pitched in Spring Training for the first time since 2021…missed 2022 while recovering from Tommy John surgery

vs. PADRES
• Will face the Padres for the 11th time in his career…he is 1-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 career games against the Padres

• Last season, he tossed 5.0 innings, allowing three runs in his lone start against the Padres at Petco Park.

SAN DIEGO PADRES NOTES:

Tatis homers twice off Kershaw as Padres take Game 1 of 13 in the regular season vs. LAD
• Fernando Tatis Jr. homered off Clayton Kershaw last night in the 3rd and 5th innings, and in doing so, he became the 1st player to ever have multiple multi-homer games against the future Hall of Famer…it was Tatis’ 9th-career multi-homer game, and 4 of them have been against the Dodgers.

• Padres starter Yu Darvish picked up his 2nd win (now 2-2) after going 6.2 innings with 2 runs (1 earned) allowed on 4 hits…he walked 1 batter and punched out 6 Dodgers…Kershaw, meanwhile, suffered his 1st-career outing in which he didn’t get past 4.2 innings of work with at least 4 earned runs, 5 walks, and 8 hits allowed.

• The Friars drew a season-high 11 walks in the game, and it was the first time the Dodgers had allowed as many free passes in a game since August 13, 2016 vs. PIT (11 walks).

Packed house
• Last night, the Padres saw a season-high 45,116 patrons at Petco Park to kick off the 3-game set against the Dodgers…discounting the two “home games” against the Giants in Mexico City from April 29-30, the Padres have hosted a total of 680,721 fans so far at Petco this year in 17 games for an average of 40,042 fans per game…that average at Petco per game ranks 2nd in all of baseball, trailing just You-Know-Who (the Dodgers have average a Major League leading 47,982 fans per game so far in Chavez Ravine).

Padres look to snap home series losing streak vs. Dodgers (in regular season)
• The last time the Padres won a regular season home series against the Dodgers at Petco Park was when they swept them in 3 games from June 21-23, 2021…since then, the Padres have won just 3 of their 12 games against Los Angeles at Petco Park, losing all 4 series.

• A win today would be the Friars’ 1st time winning consecutive games vs. the Dodgers since June 22-23, 2021…San Diego has gone 6-23 against the Dodgers (in the regular season) since August 24, 2021. Soto needs 2 more walks for the most in MLB history before turning 25

• Juan Soto is 24 years and 193 days old today with 540 career walks…he needs 2 more BB to set a record for the most walks by any player in MLB history before turning 25 (Sportstrader)…trails just Mel Ott’s 541 BB, and Soto already has more before turning 25 than Mickey Mantle (522) & Ted Williams (493).

• Soto’s 124 career multi-walk games (and his 34th 3-walk games) are both already the most by any player before turning 25…Juan has an MLB-leading 32 walks this year (next is Adley Rutschman’s 26)

• Soto enters today riding a 7-game hit streak, going 10-for-24 (.417) with 4 doubles, a homer, 8 RBI, and 10 BB…the streak follows his 1st 26 games in which he hit just .178 (16-for-90).

Snellzilla gets the ball
• 30-year-old left-hander Blake Snell is in search of his 2nd consecutive win of the season and his 2nd straight win vs. the Dodgers…he last faced the Dodgers last Postseason in Game 3 of the NLDS at Petco Park on Oct. 14 in SD’s 2-1 win, tossing 5.1 IP of 5-hit ball, 1-run ball.

Hitting with RISP/ Hitting with 2 outs
• The Padres rank 29th in batting average with RISP so far this year at .208, ahead of just the Tigers’ .196 clip…they went just 1-for-8 with RISP last night, and in their wins, the Padre have hit .310 with RISP…in losses, they’ve hit .054.

• However, when hitting with 2 outs, they’ve posted a .250 average, the 6th highest with 2 outs in the big leagues…in fact, their .358 OBP with 2 outs leads the Majors.

STARTING PITCHER – BLAKE SNELL #4
Welcome to Snel-LA
30-year-old left-hander Blake Snell is in search of his 2nd consecutive win of the season and his 2nd straight win vs. the Dodgers…he last faced the Dodgers last Postseason in Game 3 of the NLDS at Petco Park on Oct. 14 in SD’s 2-1 win, tossing 5.1 IP of 5-hit ball, 1-run ball…among all active pitchers who have made at least 10 career starts vs. LAD, his 2.45 ERA ranks 2nd among all active pitchers (min. 10 starts), behind only MIL’s Eric Lauer (2.37)…using the same qualifications, his .187 opp. AVG vs. LAD hitters ranks 3rd, behind only Yu Darvish (.180) and Zac Gallen (.186), and his 1.09 WHIP ranks 6th. Max Muncy’s lone career hit in his 14 at-bats vs. Snell is a homer (1-for-14), while Mookie Betts is 9-for-35 (.257), Will Smith is 5-for-16 (.313) with a homer and Freddie Freeman is 4-for-9 (.444).

Snell goes walkless in first career start vs. CIN
In his most recent start this past Mon vs. CIN, he faced the Reds for first time in his career, leaving his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, as the only team he is yet to square off against…he got his first winning decision of the season and the Padres won a start of his for the first time in ’23 in SD’s 8-3 victory…he is now 10-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his 12 career starts when he issues 0 walks. Has issued 3+ walks in 4 of his 6 starts so far this year, including 4 such starts in a row from April 6-25…in 2023, he’s issued 18 BB to the 135 batters he’s faced across 29.0 IP…his 5.59 BB/9 IP is the 8th-highest ratio in MLB, while his .133 BB/BFP is 9th-highest (min. 5 starts).

Can’t spell Blake without the K
Snell enters tonight’s matchup with 33 SO across 29.0 IP, but his 2023 K% (24.4) and SO/9 IP ratio (10.24) are both down this season compared to 2022 (32.0 K% and 12.02 SO/9 IP).

Can’t stay ahead if you don’t get ahead
Snell is getting ahead in counts on the first pitch a little over half the time…his 52.6 first-pitch strike percentage is 6th-lowest in the Majors (min. 5 starts).

Long live the lefties
Since 2018, he’s posted the 3rd-most double-digit SO games (23) among all ML lefthanders, trailing only Chris Sale (27) and Robbie Ray (26)…he was 1 SO shy of double digits with 9 on Opening Day vs. COL, and he had 5 double-digit SO performances last season… digging deeper back to 2016, Sale (11.91 SO/9 IP) and Ray (11.48) are the only 2 left-handed starters (min. 200 IP) averaging more K’s per nine innings than Snell (10.93) since ’16.

Call him ‘Swing and Miss Snell’
Has caused opponents to swing and miss 33.1% of the time, the 7th-highest swing and miss rate among all ML starters (min. 5 starts) and 3rd-highest in the NL. Among all ML pitchers who have made at least 55 starts since 2021, which was Snell’s first season with the Padres, his 32.4 whiff % is the 4th-highest, trailing only Corbin Burnes (35.4%), Shane McClanahan (34.0%) and Dylan Cease (33.3%).

Leather Head Sports

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