The Los Angeles Dodgers will welcome the San Diego Padres to Chavez Ravine Friday night for a three-game divisional showdown.
Call San Diego the land of ‘fit’ toys. Newly-minted Padres Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, and Josh Hader will face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time tonight, getting a taste of the bitter Southern California rivalry.
But the Los Angeles Dodgers have toys of their own. The 1-2-3 punch of All-Stars Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman is one of the most formidable in baseball. Even though the Dodgers will likely win the National League West crown, the threat of seeing the Padres in October looms large.
San Diego is firmly entrenched in the NL Wild Card race. They are 2.5-games behind the Atlanta Braves for the first Wild Card spot.
Sean Manaea (6-5, 4.25 ERA) will take the mound for the Padres tonight, making his 20th start of the season. The left-hander is as up-and-down as they come. Manaea will look to avenge a disappointing start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in April, in which he surrendered seven runs (six earned) in 4 ⅔ innings of work.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will trot out Tony Gonsolin (12-1, 2.41 ERA), who after a phenomenal first-half is beginning to come back down to Earth. Gonsolin has been shaky in his last three starts, giving up 12 runs. He was stellar in his lone start against the Padres on July 1, giving up one run and fanning eight.
The stars will be out in Los Angeles tonight. Let’s take a look at the angles for this talent-heavy matchup.
When Gonsolin faced the Padres a month ago, Soto and Bell were Nationals, and Drury was a Red. Manny Machado did not play in that game as well.
The new four horsemen invigorates the Padres lineup, making it among baseball’s elite. Aside from Soto’s game-changing abilities and Machado’s consistency at the plate, Bell and Drury have been as solid as they come this season, having an .880 OPS and .858 OPS respectively.
Gonsolin’s fastball is his go-to, but it has been his weakest pitch this season. Opponents are hitting .266 against it and its velocity ranks in the bottom half of the league. Soto and Bell are fastball mashers, both hitting over .300 against fastballs.
Although Machado has been shut down by the Los Angeles Dodgers this year, batting .181, he is riding a hot bat going into this series. The third baseman has six RBIs in his last eight games.
Gonsolin could be in for a rebound, but the last team a hittable pitcher wants to see right now is the Padres.
The Padres certainly expected more out of the former Athletics southpaw when they traded for him back in April. Manaea will be due for a lucrative contract extension this offseason, but if he fails to pitch well in October, the Padres should part with him.
Manaea has a 4.25 ERA and is carrying the highest walk rate of his career (9.1 percent). He has yet to find any true consistency, and time is ticking.
The left-hander turned in a solid July, holding a 3.00 ERA across five starts. He is a slightly better pitcher on the road than at home, but the Los Angeles Dodgers offense has been clicking on all cylinders as of late. They are third in runs in the last seven days.
Both offenses are scorching right now, and with two pitchers who are not in their best form, the total is the best side to approach tonight.
I cannot see Manaea or Gonsolin shutting either offense down. Take the over 8.5 (-110 at Caesars Sportsbook) and watch these two dynamic offenses light up the scoreboard.