It feels like it has been a long time since the Los Angeles Dodgers have had real competition within the NL West, but they are quickly finding themselves pressed in 2020. On Monday, the Dodgers (33-14) will travel to Petco Park to take on the second-place San Diego Padres (31-17) in the first of three games. First pitch for this one is scheduled for 9:10 pm ET.
For the Dodgers, they come into this one having split a short two-game series over the weekend with the Houston Astros. After dropping Saturday’s game, the Dodgers came back and won Sunday’s game 8-1. The Dodgers will look to hold, if not expand, their lead in the division this week.
After having their games on Friday and Saturday with the San Francisco Giants postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, the Padres swept a doubleheader between the two teams on Sunday. With those two wins, the Padres have now won seven games in a row and are 9-2 in September. The Padres will look for a sweep over the Dodgers and, if they can, will be in first in the division with just a couple weeks to play.
While Los Angeles hasn’t officially announced their starter for Monday at the time of this writing, the belief is that Clayton Kershaw (5-1, 1.98 ERA) will start for the Dodgers. His opponent on the mound will be Dinelson Lamet (2-1, 2.24 ERA) for the Padres.
By The Numbers
Offensively, these are two of the best scoring teams in the big leagues. The Padres come in second overall in runs per game at 5.74. The Dodgers come in third in the majors at 5.63 runs per game.
Defensively, it is the Dodgers who hold the advantage. They currently rank second in the league in runs allowed per game at 3.54. The Padres come in ninth overall, allowing 4.22 runs per game.
Dodgers Look To Expand Division Lead
With just a couple weeks left in the regular season, the Dodgers would love nothing more than to extend their lead within the NL West and hopefully give the Padres little chance of being able to catch them. To do so, they will need to try to slow down the red-hot Padres.
To try to slow them down will be Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Kershaw is having a Cy Young type season this year. In 7 starts, Kershaw is 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and has struck out 44 in 41 innings.
On the offensive side, Mookie Betts is showing why he may have been so deserving of the big contract extension he got. In 173 at-bats, Betts is hitting .301/.381/.607 with 15 home runs, 35 runs batted in, and 35 runs scored.
Now the Dodgers want one of their other superstars, Cody Bellinger, to live up to his potential. While he has 10 home runs, Bellinger is hitting just .218/.295/.420.
Padres Looking To Keep Winning Streak Rolling
The Padres look like a team to be reckoned with for years to come. While it remains to be seen whether they can supplant the Dodgers this season as the top team in the NL West, it looks like the Dodgers could have their hands full with San Diego for the foreseeable future.
One of the best players on the Padres, and the league for that matter, is Fernando Tatis Jr. In 184 at-bats, Tatis Jr. is hitting .293/.385/.614 with 15 home runs, 40 runs batted in, 46 runs scored, and nine stolen bases. If he is not the NL MVP this season, he certainly will be in the conversation.
On the mound for the Padres Monday, will be Dinelson Lamet. In nine games this season, Lamet is 2-1 with a 2.24 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 68 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. He has an exceptional slider and one that he has used more than almost any other pitcher in the majors. If it is sharp and he can get the Dodgers biting, it may just give the Padres a chance to take the first game of the series.
Hard To Bet Against Kershaw
This really should be an exciting matchup between Mookie Betts and the Dodgers versus Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres. It wouldn’t shock me if either one took this game, but I have a hard time betting against Clayton Kershaw. One of the best pitchers in the majors over the last decade has shown exactly why this season.
For that reason, I give the Dodgers the edge in this one, but I wouldn’t blame you if you took the Padres at home, either.