We’ve been waiting all Winter to see Dodgers vs Padres again. This season series did not disappoint last year, as stars from both sides lit up the field in a big-time rivalry matchup.
But despite the intense and close rivalry games, these two teams went in different directions in 2021.
The Dodgers soared to a 106-win season and a berth in the NLCS, while the Padres foundered underneath high expectations while finishing four games under .500.
The Padres made some much-needed changes to the roster in the offseason, and they are 9-5 on the young season as a result. But the rotation is slightly short – see Nick Martinez starting today – and Fernando Tatis Jr. is still recovering from an injury.
And it’s going to be very tough to take down the big bad Dodgers. L.A. has gotten out to a dominant 9-3 start and likely won’t slow down soon. They’ve recorded a whopping +32 run differential through those 12 games, including a +16 over the past five games against the Reds and Braves.
The Dodgers will be heavy favorites today. So, is it worth looking at the Padres with huge plus-money odds?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups and my prediction for this primetime NL West matchup.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres Odds
Thoughts on the odds, how you see the game playing out, etc
Julio Urias is a very underrated pitcher. He’s stuck behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, but he’s got a legit argument for being the best pitcher on the staff.
Meanwhile, Martinez came over from Texas to try and fill some holes in the rotation. So far, he’s been as advertised, pitching to a 4.50 ERA and a 5.00 xFIP.
Therefore, it’s no wonder the Dodgers are laying such heavy juice.
The over might be slightly low with two hot lineups and Martinez on the mound. But Urias is one of the best run prevention pitchers in the bigs and both bullpens are solid as well.
Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Lineup
RF Mookie Betts R
1B Freddie Freeman L
SS Trea Turner R
DH Max Muncy L
3B Justin Turner R
C Will Smith R
CF Cody Bellinger L
LF Chris Taylor R
2B Gavin Lux L
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Nick Martinez
Who is Nick Martinez?
He’s a replacement-level innings-eater with a league-average fastball. He’s recorded exactly 0.2 WAR in over 400 MLB innings, which is impressive and underwhelming at the same time.
But he has a fun story – Martinez hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2017. After struggling as a depth guy with the Rangers, he took off for Japan, signing a contract with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the NPBL in 2018 and thriving there for three years.
Martinez also shoved in the Olympics on the way to a U.S. Gold Medal, and he’s been rewarded for his efforts.
The Padres are taking a shot on Martinez with a four-year, incentive-laden deal that could be worth over $25 million.
So far, that hasn’t really paid off. His mediocre peripherals are backed up with lackluster advanced stats. The Padres can only hope for improvement or consistency.
Neither of those should come against this Dodgers lineup. LAD is top-10 in both OPS (.738) and wRC+ (118), and both those numbers may be underrating just how dangerous the lineup can be.
Mookie Betts has been poor to begin the year, but he should only improve once his BABIP (.044) regresses back to league average (.300). That will add a whole new dimension at the leadoff spot for this team.
San Diego Padres Starting Lineup
CF Trent Grisham L
C Austin Nola R
3B Manny Machado R
2B Jake Cronenworth L
DH Luke Voit R
RF Wil Myers R
1B Eric Hosmer L
LF Jurickson Profar S
SS Ha-Seong Kim R
San Diego Padres vs Julio Urias
Urias was a stud last season, and I expect him to be a stud this season.
But he hasn’t quite broken out yet.
He’s pitched just seven innings total through his first two starts, recording a 3.89 ERA and a 4.49 xERA in the process. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and he’s had trouble with the long ball.
But it’s a small sample size, and likely won’t be reflective of Urias’ full-season production.
Projections have Urias lowering his ERA and FIP into the mid-3.00s by the end of the season. I tend to agree with that assessment.
Last season, he was great at eating innings (185 IP over 32 starts) and doing so with uber-low batted-ball numbers (86mph avg. exit velocity, 30.3% hard-hit rate). That’s not an anomaly either, as he’s ranked inside the top-10 percent of pitchers in both average exit velocity allowed and hard-hit rate allowed for three years straight.
Urias will battle a Padres team that has been cooking in the early season, particularly at home. The Padres’ 120 wRC+ at PetCo ranks top-five in MLB so far, and their 42 runs scored at home ranks fourth.
The Padres also love hitting lefties, as the lineup has posted an OPS over .800 and a wRC+ over 130 against that side this season.
It’ll be a tough matchup for Urias today. But he’s due for a bounce-back performance, and I wouldn’t surprised if he gets it here in a rivalry game.
Of course, in 16 innings pitching against the Padres last season, Urias posted an xFIP over 5.00.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres Picks & Prediction
My pick: Over 8 (-105 at DraftKings)
Two hot offenses in a rivalry game at night in PetCo. I’ll take that.
Nick Martinez is nothing special, and he should be vulnerable against this Dodgers lineup in San Diego.
And while I’m very high on Urias in the future, he’s been struggling in the early going and has to pitch on the road against the Padres. Most of Urias’ numbers are worse away from Dodger Stadium, so he could be slightly overvalued in this spot.
The over has already taken some sharp money, so I’ll be on the over at 8 (-120) or better.