2022 NLDS Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres
In a fascinating (and convincing) fashion, the San Diego Padres swept the 101-win New York Mets to secure a date with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. This sets up the second straight NLDS for Los Angeles against an opponent in their division. Let’s dive into it.
Both San Diego and Los Angeles pride themselves on having dominant pitching staffs. The Padres are led by Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell. Darvish and Musgrove already appeared in the Wild Card series, so they probably won’t be seeing action until later in the NLDS.
The Dodgers are all ready to go with their staff. Clayton Kershaw is fighting off father time, putting up another amazing season. He’s a prime candidate to pitch Game 1. Tony Gonsolin is healthy as well, adding to the juggernaut pitching staff with Tyler Anderson and Julio Urias.
In my opinion, the Dodgers have an upper hand on San Diego in terms of their pitching staff, as these four starters boast a sub-3 ERA. The Padres only have one starting pitcher who’s sub-3 and that’s Musgrove.
These two teams at the plate feature some of the best hitters in baseball. The Dodgers carry the edge most definitely, scoring the most runs of any team in the National League and having the highest OPS at .775. The top three of that lineup is practically murderers’ row with Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner.
The Padres have Manny Machado who is no slouch himself. He is the offensive cog in that Padres lineup, and the rest will have to really step up offensively. Juan Soto is finding his swing and the San Diego offense seemed to really shine against the Mets. The Dodgers are a different beast, however.
Defense is vital to any postseason series. It goes unnoticed by many, but a full diving catch can save a game and be a difference-maker. The Dodgers have an impressive outfield and Betts’ range in right as well as his arm, really adds to his pure talent.
Although Cody Bellinger‘s offensive numbers have fallen off substantially, he patrols centerfield perhaps better than anyone in baseball. In left field, there’s the option for Joey Gallo, who is quite the outfielder himself, or Chris Taylor. The Padres, however, have Trent Grisham and Jurickson Profar, studs in their own right.
In the infield, the Padres edge the Dodgers. Third baseman Machado is always a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player, Ha-Seong Kim is a wizard at shortstop, and second baseman Jake Cronenworth is the mayor of the Crone-Zone.
With all these factors in place, the Padres edge the Dodgers. This must not be overlooked by any means.
Let me preface this by saying the Dodgers’ bullpen is filthy. This group has risen as one of the most dominant relief squads in the sport. Evan Phillips is unhittable with his 1.14 ERA. Alex Vesia and Chris Martin also shut down offenses. The problem, however, is the closer role. The Dodgers don’t have it.
Los Angeles demoted Craig Kimbrel after blowing save after save. Dave Roberts has an idea going into the NLDS of using the closer role as a revolving door. This could work, but could also backfire, especially for someone who isn’t used to having that sort of pressure.
Josh Hader has figured it out finally, so the Padres have their closer. This will be a tough task for LA if they find themselves down in late innings. Other than him, the Padres have a few pieces who are solid like Robert Suarez and Nabil Crismatt, but I’d still have to give the edge to Los Angeles.
In the end, I see the Dodgers winning the series in four games. There is a reason why the Dodgers won 110 games, including 14 against the Padres. They also outscored them 109-47 in those matchups. The one game the Padres win will be a masterful start by Darvish.
Let’s be honest, anything could happen, but the Dodgers are just that good.
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