The Padres aren’t hitting much in this series.
There’s just no way around it.
They’ve got one more homer than the Dodgers (could be two if it weren’t for Cody Bellinger), but they’re hitting .182/.260/.318 in putting themselves in a two-game hole in this best-of-five series.
Might as well change things up, right?
So Mitch Moreland — who doubled as a pinch hitter Wednesday — will get the nod at DH, pushing Jurickson Profar and his 0-for-6 start to the series to the pinch-hitting role he had in the Wild Card Series against the Cardinals.
Tommy Pham (2-for-7 in the series and 8-for-20 this postseason) will start in left field after DHing the previous two, while backup catcher Jason Castro start his first postseason game in place of Austin Nola, who is 1-for-14 with four walks and six strikeouts this postseason.
Nola also hit .222/.324/.381 with two homers and nine RBIs in 19 games after arriving from the Mariners at the trade deadline.
“It’s no secret Nola has been just battling,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Thursday afternoon. “We’ve rode him hard. … He certainly wanted to go. I just thought tonight let’s get him off his feet, let’s get him off his knees. … We wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t have a ton of confidence in Jason Castro.”
Meantime, Castro hit .188/.293/.375 with two homers and nine RBIs in 27 games split with the Angels and Padres. This is his first postseason action since going 0-for-3 in a wild-card game with the Twins in 2017. Castro is 1-for-19 with two walks and 11 strikeouts in his seven career postseason games.
Moreland’s extensive postseason is also worth noting. Including a 3-for-6 effort in the Wild Card Series, Moreland is hitting .261/.331/.425 across 51 postseason games. That includes four home runs and an RBI tally that hit 19 with Wednesday’s run-scoring double off Kenley Jansen.
The arm that the Dodgers are throwing at the Padres — right-hander Dustin May — has been as tough on San Diego as almost anyone on LA’s starting staff.
Although the 23-year-old rookie lost twice last year to San Diego (3.46 ERA), his 2.60 ERA against the Padres in 2020 was topped, among Dodgers starters, by only Tony Gonsolin (0.77), who very well could be available behind May in this game.
The list of Dodgers who made regular season starts against the Padres looks like this: Gonsolin (0.77 ERA), May (2.60), Julio Urias (2.84), Clayton Kershaw (4.26), the traded Ross Stripling (5.23), Walker Buehler (5.40) and reliever Brusdar Graterol (9.00).
May struck out 16, walked four and posted a 0.865 WHIP over 17 1/3 innings against the Padres in 2020. He also struck out three over two perfect innings in relief in Tuesday’ game, in effect a bullpen to prepare him for his Game 3 start.
Current Padres who’ve faced May have a .235/.287/.370 batting line in 87 plate appearances over the last two years. Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth and Profar all have home runs in their meetings with the lanky right-hander with a 100 mph sinker, but the Padres’ spark plug, Fernando Tatis Jr., is 1-for-12 with a double and four strikeouts in his career against May.
Tatis, Pham and Wil Myers were May’s strikeout victims during Tuesday’s 27-pitch relief appearance.
Here is how May has fared against current Padres:
The Padres are countering with 21-year-old left-hander Adrian Morejon, who had a 4.66 ERA in 19 1/3 innings this year as a reliever/opener. Current Dodgers have a .353/.353/.706 batting line against Morejon, who hasn’t thrown more than thee innings in a game this year and will look to pass the baton in a bullpen game.
Here is how Morejon has fared against current Dodgers:
The one notable change in the Dodgers’ lineup from Wednesday is Joc Pederson returning to DH, allowing Will Smith to slip back behind the plate.