The San Diego Padres brought in three aces and improved their bullpen in preparation for a World Series run in 2021, but the Dodgers didn’t want to acknowledge that their Southern California rival is a legitimate threat to their World Series reign. Now, they officially have.
For the last decade, the Dodgers’ main rival was the San Francisco Giants. Remember Max Muncy telling Madison Bumgarner to go get the ball out of the water after a home run? But in 2021, the Giants don’t figure to be a real contender. Do you know who is? The San Diego Padres.
Back in Spring Training, Los Angeles skipper Dave Roberts didn’t want to acknowledge the Padres as their biggest competition in the National League West (and in the whole NL). “I don’t mean to sound arrogant,” Roberts said. “But the fact is I really don’t (care what moves the Padres make).”
Well, based on his most recent decision, it looks like Roberts cares a lot about the Padres. Roberts set his starting rotation up this week so that his three best starters–Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer–pitch in the three-game series starting on Friday night at Petco Park.
If Roberts really didn’t care about the Friars, then he would’ve left the rotation order as it was instead of playing “roster gymnastics”. He has Dustin May and Julio Urias starting against Colorado while Kershaw is scheduled to pitch on six days rest instead of five to ensure that he faces Yu Darvish on Saturday. Buehler is slated to pitch Friday with Kershaw going Saturday and Bauer toeing the rubber on Sunday.
“I think you can read into it any way you want,” Roberts said of his weekend probables, “but I think making sure guys are rested and feeling good going into a particular series is the ultimate goal.”
The Padres have started off the season in stride with the Dodgers, winning their first homestand of the season and sweeping the Texas Rangers before moving onto Pittsburgh for a four-game series (San Diego won game one against the Pirates thanks to a 5-RBI night from Wil Myers). Oh yeah, and you might have heard about the no-hitter that third starter Joe Musgrove threw. Musgrove is not going to pitch against the Dodgers, as he will be facing his former team on Wednesday on normal rest.
The Padres are expected to get back shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. in the lineup on Friday after a 10-day IL stint to recover from dislocating his left shoulder. Center fielder Trent Grisham recently returned from a hamstring strain and proceeded to homer in two consecutive games on Saturday and Sunday.
So yes, the Padres are for real, and yes, Roberts and the Dodgers should be concerned about them.