They might both hail from sunny Southern California, yet there is a bit of a dark side to the San Diego Padres-Los Angeles Dodgers matchup that will take center stage starting Tuesday in the National League Division Series at Arlington, Texas.
The teams with the two best records in the National League played 10 games against each other and the clashes were equally spicy and salty.
The Dodgers won six of the 10, with action aplenty — from bat flips to home-plate collisions, posing at home plate to a historic three-homer game from L.A.’s Mookie Betts.
The upstart Padres made sure the old-guard Dodgers could hear them arriving on the scene.
While the Dodgers announced that right-hander Walker Buehler will start in Game 1 on Tuesday and Clayton Kershaw will take Game 2, the Padres were working on potential significant roster additions.
Top Padres starters Mike Clevinger (elbow) and Dinelson Lamet (biceps/elbow) are still being considered for the NLDS roster after not participating in the wild-card round.
In their just-concluded three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Padres went with starters Chris Paddack and Zach Davies in the first two games, then used nine pitchers to craft a shutout in a deciding Game 3.
Clevinger, acquired at the trade deadline from the Cleveland Indians to fortify the starting staff, has not pitched since Sept. 23 and had a cortisone shot in his elbow two days later.
“We owe them (and) we owe the medical staff (time),” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “I feel confident it’s going to be a last-minute decision on the roster. Trying to keep everything in play, not ruling anything out.
“Each one is day to day. It feels like we’ll take a half-step forward, then another half-step forward, then we’ve been having a half-step back. We’ve got to stack some good days and see where we’re at.”
The Dodgers have their own issues. Buehler has pitched just twice since two separate stints on the injured list in September because of a blister on his right index finger. He went just four innings in the wild-card round against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“Walker, right now, I think his finger is in a great place,” said manager Dave Roberts, who added that some extra days since the end of the wild-card round have been beneficial. “We’ll keep an eye on him each inning and he’s probably going to be upset when the time comes (to be removed). But we’re trying to win this start and the next series as well and have him pitch.”
The pitching staffs will have to work their way around formidable offenses. The Dodgers have been powered by leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, followed by No. 2 hitter Corey Seager. The Padres are led by No. 2 hitter Fernando Tatis Jr. and No. 3 hitter Manny Machado.
Betts hit three home runs in an Aug. 13 victory over the Padres, becoming just the third player in MLB history to hit three homers in a game six times, along with Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa. Seager also hit a home run in that game.
Tatis and Machado combined for six extra-base hits, including four home runs against the Dodgers. Tatis batted just .164 with a .291 slugging percentage over his final 16 regular-season games, but went 5-for-11 (.455) in the wild-card round, with two home runs in Game 2.
Tensions grew between the Dodgers and Padres on Aug. 3 when Tatis ran over Dodgers catcher Will Smith and then again on Aug. 11 when the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor made hard contact with then-Padres catcher Austin Hedges.
More barking between the teams occurred Sept. 14 when the Padres’ Trent Grisham took his time leaving the batter’s box after hitting a towering home run against Clayton Kershaw.
“Those guys play with a lot of energy and a lot of guys in that lineup can hurt you with the long ball,” Roberts said of the Padres. “It’s a momentum-driven team.”
–Field Level Media