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Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo: © Keeton10 | Dreamstime.com

After dropping a disappointing series to the Reds one game to three, the Padres are back in action Friday night for a series against the team with the best record in baseball, Los Angeles Dodgers. Coming into this series, the Padres are losers of five of their last seven on their current ten game road trip. The task gets no easier this weekend, as LA comes into play with an astounding 81-33 record, and could be well on their way to having the best record of all time. San Diego will look to turn their play around against the Dodgers this weekend, as they are 2-7 against the Boys in Blue in 2017. Without further delay, let’s get to this weekend’s probables for both sides.

Friday: LHP Clayton Richard (5-12, 5.17 ERA) vs. LHP Rich Hill (8-4, 3.47 ERA)

Richard comes into this one after having a deceptively strong outing last time out against Pittsburgh. Though he gave up four runs over six innings, none were earned and he only allowed five hits and a walk, while striking out five. While you wouldn’t expect him to dominate the Dodger lineup tonight, he definitely could be starting to build on something here, as he was also quite efficient last time out, throwing only 92 pitches. However, he hasn’t been good against the Dodgers this year, going 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA over three games started. If he can throw a quality start tonight, I think he can give the Pads a good shot.

On the other side of the card, Rich Hill takes the mound for the red-hot Dodgers after a decent five inning, three run, eight strikeout outing against the Mets. He didn’t factor in the decision, as the Dodgers won in comeback fashion, but he has strung together some very solid starts as of late. Hill has been really good in the second half, going 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA and striking out batters at an impressive 1.26 per inning. Factor in that he has been really good at home this year (5-3, 3.19 ERA), and he poses a significant challenge against the Padres tonight. If the Padres are to steal a game, it will likely be a low scoring, highly defensive contest.

Saturday: RHP Jhoulys Chacín (11-8, 4.15 ERA) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-6, 3.53 ERA)

In the middle game of the weekend series, we see the Padres de facto ace, Jhoulys Chacín take the mound against left-handed Korean Hyun-Jin Ryu. I like this matchup a bit more for the Padres, because Chacín has thrown the ball well lately (excluding his last start), and because of the plethora of right-handed bats in the Padres lineup, which could help them see the lefty Ryu a bit better. And while he was certifiably awful against the Dodgers on Opening Day, Chacín has rebounded against the club in his past two starts to a certain degree, throwing 10.1 IP and allowing only 1 ER, while striking out nine in that span, which is why I think he has a good shot to extend his recent successes.

The lefty Ryu will oppose Chacín, and will do so while coming off of a hot month of July, where he went 1-0 with a miniscule ERA of 0.95 in three games started. While he has been tough to hit over the past month, he hasn’t been immortal. If the Padres are to score and give themselves a chance to win, they will have to do so early, for Ryu has a 4.59 ERA in his first and second innings pitched, compared to a 2.13 ERA in innings 3-7. He’s going to be tough to get to at home, but can fall apart early if he is jumped on.

Sunday: RHP Luis Perdomo (6-6, 4.81 ERA) vs. RHP Kenta Maeda (10-4, 3.69 ERA)

In the series finale, we see a couple of righties take the mound, as the young Luis Perdomo takes on fellow second year veteran Kenta Maeda. Perdomo was able to secure the lone victory in the series with Cincinnati (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) thanks to inducing four double plays with his downward angling sinker. Otherwise, it’s been a relatively tough year for Perdomo, who hasn’t quite had as much success this year as he had last year with the Friars. Still, he has made noticeable strides this season with his development, and looks to figure into the Pads plans in the future.

The Dodgers will send Maeda to the mound to look to continue their success on the field. This year, Maeda has settled into the number 3 spot behind Clayton Kershaw and the newly-acquired Yu Darvish, and has definitely delivered. When on, Maeda features a low 90s fastball that he can spot virtually anywhere, as well as a cutter that he has developed and now uses around 24% of the time (Courtesy of FanGraphs). I think that this is one of the reasons why Maeda has been so good this year, since his fastball can tend to lack zip in later innings. With the addition of this new pitch, he has yet another weapon to make hitters look foolish and lead to weak contact.