Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres NLDS Preview

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Ryan Hess previews the Dodgers vs Padres Series and picks out both the best bet for the whole Series and his predictions for Game 1.

When the Padres landed Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado on huge contracts in back-to-back offseasons, many questioned why they would want to sign with the Padres. The Padres hadn’t finished over .500 since 2010, hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2006, and hadn’t won a playoff series since 1998. With Hosmer making back-to-back World Series with the Royals (including winning one in 2015), and Machado coming off his first career World Series appearance with the rival Dodgers, many wondered why they’d join the Padres of all teams. After finishing fourteen games over .500 with one of the most explosive offenses in the league and beating the Cardinals in the Wild Card round, nobody is questioning why Hosmer and Machado picked the Padres. Slam Diego is back to relevancy behind one of the best and youngest cores in the league.

On the other hand, there was never any doubt that the Dodgers would dominate any team they faced after adding former MVP Mookie Betts in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers already had one of the best offenses in the league with reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger joined by Max Muncy, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Will Smith, and adding Betts made them the undisputed best team in the league. There was little doubt that the Dodgers would be winning their eighth straight division title.

Now that we’ve arrived at the NLDS after one of the strangest MLB seasons ever, the Dodgers and Padres are ready for a showdown. This is one of the most even matchups of the postseason, as both teams have great starting pitching, reliable bullpens, and explosive offenses. I’ll compare both teams in each category before giving my predictions for the series.

Starting Pitching & Bullpen

With Dinelson Lamet still out, the Padres have only committed to starting Mike Clevinger and Chris Paddack for games one and two. On the other hand, the Dodgers will be sending out Walker Buehler for game one followed by ace Clayton Kershaw for game two. The Dodgers can count on Kershaw and Buehler to pitch deep into games, but the Padres will be hoping to get more than five innings from Clevinger, Paddack, and possibly Zach Davies. While having Clevinger back will be a big boost for the Padres, the Dodgers have the upper hand in starting pitching.

The Dodgers and Padres had very different series for their bullpens in the Wild Card round. The Padres were forced to use 8 pitchers in game one and 9 pitchers in games two and three to beat the Cardinals, getting just 4.1 innings from Paddack and Davies combined. On the other hand, the Dodgers got 4 innings from Buehler in game one due to a blister, and Kershaw pitched eight shutout innings in game two. Manager Dave Roberts did say that he might be having a starter like Dustin May, Julio Urias, or Tony Gonsolin come out of the bullpen in relief of Buehler in game one. While I think the Padres have better relievers in their bullpen, the Dodgers being able to use great starters like May and Urias out of the bullpen gives them the slight edge over the Padres bullpen.

Offense

Finally, comparing the Dodgers and Padres high-powered offenses. Both teams finished top five in the league in HR, RBI, Slugging percentage, and OPS. The Padres entire offense seemed to rake all season long, except for Tommy Pham, as they were able to steal bases, score runs, and hit grand slams at-will all season long. On the other hand, the Dodgers did the exact same thing the Padres did while being backed up by one of the best rotations in the league. This is the lone toss-up for me, as I think this is a match-up that could go either way. As great as the San Diego offense played all season long, I guess the Dodgers would have a slight edge due to them having a little more depth than the Padres, but this will be a very competitive series.

Best Game 1 Bet: Under 8.5 Runs (-106)

Best Series Bets: Dodgers Win Series 3-2 (+340)

To get more great MLB playoff bets, check out our very own Jason Radowitz’s daily MLB picks!

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