The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres have been touted as the best two teams in the National League West this season, and they’ve shown why this week, splitting the first two games of their series at Petco Park to set up the rubber match on Wednesday night.
The first two matchups demonstrated the high-quality starting pitching in both organizations, and that should be the case again in the finale with Ross Stripling and Garrett Richards squaring off.
Stripling comes in undefeated at 2-0 in two starts this season, posting a 2.92 ERA, 4.38 FIP and 0.81 WHIP with nine strikeouts and two walks in 12.1 innings. He has faced the Padres 15 times (seven starts) in his career, going 4-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.26 WHIP while striking out 57 and walking 11 in 45.1 innings.
Stripling draws the tough task of slowing down Padres young star Fernando Tatis Jr., who is off to a hot start to the season, hitting .277/.382/.596 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 12 games. He went 1-for-2 with a home run against Stripling last season.
Richards is in his first full season coming off Tommy John surgery and has looked even better than his pre-injury self. The right-hander’s velocity is right where it was, and his breaking ball is looking like one of the best in baseball.
In two starts, Richards has yielded a 3.38 ERA, 3.10 FIP and 1.22 WHIP with 12 strikeouts and four walks in 10.2 innings. The former L.A. Angels hurler has dominated the Dodgers in his career, pitching to a 1.78 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 30 strikeouts and 12 walks in 30.1 innings across six games (four starts) against them.
Mookie Betts entered as a defensive replacement on Tuesday night but he is again out of the lineup for the series finale.
That puts AJ Pollock in the leadoff spot, which isn’t all that surprising considering he is swinging as hot of a bat as anyone. Pollock is hitting .364/.417/.758 with three home runs an six RBI in 10 games, and that includes coming off the bench Tuesday to deliver a go-ahead RBI double followed by a home run.
DH: AJ Pollock
1B: Max Muncy
3B: Justin Turner
CF: Cody Bellinger
SS: Corey Seager
LF: Chris Taylor
RF: Joc Pederson
C: Will Smith
2B: Kiké Hernandez
SS: Fernando Tatis Jr.
CF: Trent Grisham
LF: Tommy Pham
3B: Manny Machado
1B: Jake Cronenworth
RF: Wil Myers
DH: Greg Garcia
C: Austin Hedges
2B: Jurickson Profar
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