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Friday’s MLB schedule features the first meeting of the season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Both teams began the season among the favorites in the National League, and while neither team got off to a great start in April, they remain serious contenders. The Padres want to start making amends for going 4-15 against the Dodgers during the 2022 regular season while the Dodgers would like some redemption after losing to San Diego in the postseason last year.
The Padres spent most of April struggling to stay above .500. But they’ve finally started to heat up a little. They swept a two-game set in Mexico City against the Giants last weekend and then two of three games against the Reds earlier this week. That’s given them four wins in their last five games, pushing them two games over .500 despite a negative run differential on the year.
Alas, the Dodgers head to San Diego this weekend riding a six-game winning streak, making them the hottest team in baseball. A week ago, Los Angeles was 13-13 and behind the Diamondbacks atop the NL West. However, the Dodgers have swept the Cardinals and Phillies in back-to-back series to climb into first place in the division.
With the Dodgers winning six in a row, they are listed as road favorites in Friday’s series opener. DraftKings gives Los Angeles a moneyline of -125 compared to San Diego’s moneyline of +105, making the Padres a slight home underdog. Friday’s game also has an over/under of 7.5 runs.
For most of April, the San Diego offense couldn’t get anything going. Outside of Xander Bogaerts, there was little consistency. Stars like Juan Soto and Manny Machado got off to dreadful starts while Fernando Tatis Jr. missed the first chunk of the season because of a suspension. However, that has changed over the past week with the Padres scoring at least six runs in four of their last five games. In those five games, Soto is batting .471 with an OPS of 1.522. Machado, Jake Cronenworth, and Nelson Cruz have also heated up over the past week, although Bogaerts has hit his first slump of the season, so the San Diego lineup still isn’t firing on all cylinders.
On the pitching front, Joe Musgrove will make his third start of 2023. Musgrove managed to pick up a win in his first start, but he got hit hard in Mexico City against the Giants last Saturday, allowing seven runs on six hits over 6.1 innings. Obviously, the Padres don’t want to overreact to one poor start in a hitter-friendly environment. But Musgrove also has a troubling history against some of the top hitters in the Los Angeles lineups. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Max Muncy are all key figures for the Dodgers, and that trio is a combined 25 for 61 (.410) with 10 extra-base hits against Musgrove.
The Padres aren’t the only team in this game that’ starting to click offensively. The Dodgers scored 36 runs during their three-game sweep of the Phillies earlier this week and have averaged seven runs per game over their last 11 games. Muncy continues to provide plenty of power with 12 homers on the season. James Outman, Jason Heyward, and Will Smith have also helped to provide depth behind Betts and Freeman, who are both hitting .400 and have combined for nine extra-base hits in the team’s last six games. They remain the key figures in the Los Angeles lineup, particularly Betts, who often serves as the catalyst.
If that red-hot lineup isn’t enough for the Dodgers, they also have Clayton Kershaw getting the start on Friday. The 35-year-old looks several years younger, going 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP over his first six starts of the season. Kershaw has pitched at least six innings in all six starts and struck out nine batters in three of the six starts, so he’s performed like he’s still in his prime early in 2023. Between Kershaw’s dominance early in the season, the Dodgers heating up offensively, and Musgrove’s woes against several prominent LA hitters, it’s hard not to think that the Dodgers are poised to win Friday’s series opener.
With Kershaw and Musgrove on the mound, it makes sense for there to be a low over/under of just 7.5 runs in this game. But that number might be too low, especially with the way the Dodgers have been swinging the bats lately. On a related note, the Dodgers are hitting the over more than 61% of the time this year, including a 10-3-1 O/U record in their road games this season. With the way their best hitters have performed against Musgrove in the past, Los Angeles could be considered a threat to reach over 7.5 runs without any help from the Padres. That being said, San Diego’s lineup is too hot heading into this game not to push a few runs across the board, helping this game hit the over.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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