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Padres might finally be on same page as Dodgers

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Beat writers Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times and Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune talk Dodgers and Padres

Wil Myers has been through a lot in his six seasons with the Padres.

Mainly a lot of losing.

A lot of losing to the Dodgers.

As the beasts in blue won the past seven National League titles, they beat the Padres darn near two-thirds of the times they met. In plain numbers: The Dodgers went 88-45 against the Padres from 2013-19.

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Myers was on the field for 79 of those games. He saw the last 95 of them.

In the past couple years, Myers and other Padres players would play along when queried about whether an upcoming series between the two teams was a measuring stick.

The only valid answer would have been: Sure, if what you’re using to measure is one of those roll-up tapes that stretches out a few hundred feet.

No more.

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Using virtually every metric and statistic, the Padres can at least consider themselves at the Dodgers’ level in 2020.

The San Diego Padres are good for the first time since 2010, but COVID-19 restrictions prevent fans from watching games in person and celebrating with the team.

Foremost, there is the fact the Dodgers’ 33-14 record is the best in NL, with the Padres’ 31-17 mark right behind.

“Everybody knows the Dodgers are a good team,” Myers said this week. “They’ve been on top of the NL West for a long time. They have a great organization over there. But I think for us, I feel we are now at the point where we can compete with those guys. We’re as good as those guys. I think we match them up at each position. This is the first time it’s legitimately an even match and either team can go out and win at any given time.”

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The Dodgers are at Petco Park the next three days for a showdown that could go a long way toward determining if they win their eighth straight division crown or the Padres’ win their first since 2006.

The Dodgers’ lead over the Padres has in the past four days shrunk from 4½ to 2½ games.

It’s dubious how important this series is. It is a virtual certainty one of the teams will finish with the NL’s best record and the other will have the best record among second-place teams and, thus, be the fourth seed in the postseason. That would mean that, either way, a division series match-up looms if both can win their wild card series.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler would acknowledge, essentially, only that this week’s series will occur.

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The Dodgers used eight pitchers, including Brusdar Graterol to start the game, to stymie the Houston Astros in an 8-1 victory Sunday night.

“No doubt, it’s going to be a series,” Tingler said Sunday evening. “… We’ve had some battles throughout the year. They’ve been back and forth. A couple games could have gone either way. We just need to continue to play good baseball and we’ll see where we’re at. We’re excited for the challenge and looking forward to it.”

You couldn’t blame either of the two managers who guided the Padres during the previous seven seasons if deep down they dreaded these series. They knew what they were up against.

Tingler, conversely, knows what he has.

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At least a fighting chance.

Finally, what Myers says is true.

Whether the Padres can actually best the Dodgers in a season must be litigated on the field. But whereas a comparison of the teams on paper used to be sad — honestly, they hardly belonged on the same sheet — the differences now can in many instances be measured just by holding your index finger and thumb straight up.

* Most frequent starters this season ^ Through Saturday Turner expected back during this series
* Most frequent starters this season
^ Through Saturday
Turner expected back during this series
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* Most frequent lineup the past week
* Most frequent lineup the past week (Eric Hosmer on IL)
^ Through Saturday
# Season totals (rest of stats for Nola, Moreland, Castro are with Padres)

Entering Sunday’s games, the Padres’ 8.4 offensive WAR led the majors. The Dodgers’ 7.6 WAR was fourth, according to baseball-reference.com. The Padres’ 5.4 pitching WAR ranked seventh to the Dodgers’ 4.4, which was 14th.

The Padres’ .827 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) ranks second entering Monday. The Dodgers .814 mark is fourth.

The Dodgers’ pitching staff has been vastly superior much of the season, with an MLB-low ERA of 2.97 to the Padres’ 3.93 (eighth). The Dodgers’ 1.07 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) is also lowest in the majors to the Padres’ fifth-ranked 1.22 mark.

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Of late, however, the Padres have been pitching more effectively than any team, possessing a 2.19 ERA in 13 games since Aug. 30. The Dodgers have a 3.52 ERA that ranks fifth in that span.

In that same stretch, the Padres bullpen has a 1.41 ERA (lowest in the majors) to the Dodgers’ 4.32 (14th).

All that is for the rest of us.

“We just want to keep playing good baseball,” Myers said. “We don’t want to look over and look at the other team and try to get amped up. … We want to continue to play our game. Whatever team we’re playing, whatever pitcher we’re facing, it should be irrelevant of what uniform they’re wearing. I understand it’s a bigger series. It’s two teams at the top of the division. At the end of the day, if we go out there and worry about the Dodgers and (are) thinking about playing the Dodgers, we won’t be able to play our game. So we have to focus on ourselves, go out there and play good baseball and let the rest take care of itself.”

Updates:

11:55 AM, Sep. 14, 2020: This story was updated to correct some information regarding the Dodgers’ WAR in a chart.


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