2020 NLDS preview: Padres vs. Dodgers

An intriguing chapter will be written in the budding San Diego Padres versus Los Angeles Dodgers rivalry as they square off in an NL Divisional Series matchup. This is their first meeting in the postseason and they will be doing battle in the state of Texas instead of in California due to Major League Baseball’s decision to have bubbles in October.

San Diego reached the NLDS after a tantalizing series versus the veteran St. Louis Cardinals. However, they get their ace in Mike Clevinger, who returns from an arm injury that left him off the wild-card series roster. He will be making his first appearance against the high-octane offense of the Dodgers.

Offensively, San Diego was stellar against St. Louis — scoring 19 runs in the three-game series. Youthful sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. continued terrorizing pitchers as he hit .455 in 11 at-bats with two home runs and five runs batted in. Tommy Pham (6-for-13) and Jake Cronenworth (5-for-8) have also mad the San Diego offense fearsome. While Wil Myers wasn’t has consistent as the former, he provided two key homers to lift the Padres to a series win. Myers was strong against the Dodgers this season, hitting .364 with three solo homers. Pham and Tatis, however, only hit 12-for-66 (.182) against LA in 2020.

The Dodgers have a simple task that they failed to accomplish against the eventual World Series-champion Washington Nationals last year — don’t play down to your competition.

Los Angeles has it all. The hitting, the rotation and the bullpen, it’s there. They have the formula to finally win a World Series but the question comes down to whether they solve it or not. Think of the horrid high-school days of Algebra II when you had to craft your own formula from a word problem and then solve it. The Dodgers, this year, crafted that formula. Now, they have to do the final step and solve it.

Clayton Kershaw was stellar in the series-clincher against the Milwaukee Brewers. He threw eight shutout innings with 13 strikeouts in the win. Questions will still linger about his playoff resumé but 2020 is off to a great start for the future Hall of Famer. Walker Buehler is still looking to get back on track after a blister, which put him on the IL. If he has another short outing, Dustin May or Julio Urias could enter for long relief.

The offense was shaky for the Dodgers against Milwaukee. Justin Turner and Max Muncy went hitless while Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger were a combined 3-for-14. However, Mookie Betts delivered when the others couldn’t, hitting 3-for-7 and driving in three runs. Chris Taylor showed his consistent form of 2017, hitting .500 in six ABs. For LA to cruise through to the NLCS, they will have to hit better to avoid a break away inning from San Diego.

With a change of scenery to a neutral site, anything can happen. Depending on whether the roof is closed or not, humidity could play a part in knocking down fly balls, limiting the runs scored. At the end of the day, Game 1 will be critical as both Buehler and Clevinger’s injuries could play a role. Bullpens and whose offense is more consistent will end up being the deciding factors —advantage, Dodgers.

Prediction: Dodgers in 4

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