The opening game in the NLDS features two impressive pitchers for both sides. Walker Buehler and Mike Clevinger are two of the premier pitchers in the game, both with incredible 2019 seasons and shortened 2020 seasons.
In 2019, here’s how Buehler and Clevinger fared.
Among 104 starters with 120+ innings in 2019, Clevinger was second in FIP at 2.49 with Buehler in sixth at 3.01, Clevinger at sixth in ERA at 2.71 with Buehler 15th at 3.26, Buehler at eleventh in WHIP at 1.04 and Clevinger 15th at 1.06.
Theoretically, this is a matchup with two premier offenses and two premier starters. This should be a high intensity, high stakes game.
If you’re interested in a more in depth comparison between the two teams, check out the article by Dustin published earlier today.
|SS||Tatis Jr.||SS||Seager (L)|
|P||Clevinger (R)||P||Buehler (R)|
Fernando Tatis Jr. went five for eleven with two home runs and a 1.662 OPS in his first three postseason games. Manny Machado hit a solo home run in game 2 of their series, but struggled other than that going 1 for 13 besides that. As Dustin outlined in his preview, this Padres offense can be lethal — just as lethal as that of the Dodgers. Wil Myers, Tatis Jr., and Machado have all been extremely good this year, similar to that of Will Smith, Mookie Betts, and Corey Seager. If we’re being honest, the Dodgers next three in Justin Turner, A.J. Pollock, and Chris Taylor all had better offensive seasons than the Padres fourth best batter in Eric Hosmer, but that’ll most definitely jinx the Dodgers, so we don’t need to dive deeper into that one.
Since September 14, Clevinger has thrown one competitive inning, a one inning stint on September 23. He was scratched from his prior start with a bicep issue, and then left one inning into his start on September 23 with the same bicep issue/elbow strain. The Padres proceeded to leave him off their NL Wild Card roster, as he wasn’t ready to return. As of Sunday, he had thrown one bullpen session so apparently he’s ready to go. His workload and pitch count will likely be monitored and I think the Padres would love if he could go five innings.
Last time this happened with Clevinger, he missed his start on the September 19, threw his bullpen two days later on the 21st, and proceeded to make his next start on the 23rd where he left after one inning. Obviously it’s playoff baseball, but the last thing we’d want is Clevinger to be rushed back due to the lack of the Padres pitching depth. San Diego is very good, they’re likely to be the favorite to come in second in the NL West for the foreseeable future, so they’ll need guys like Clevinger to remain healthy moving forward.
After posting a “mediocre” 3.18 ERA and 5.66 FIP in his 22.2 innings with Cleveland this year, he 2.84 ERA and a 2.35 FIP in his 19 innings with San Diego. His strikeouts went up, walks went down, and home runs went down.
We know about Walker Buehler and his blister issue. In his game 1 start against the Brewers, Buehler pitched really well through 4 innings despite a two run home run to Orlando Arcia. He missed his spot with a fastball that ended up middle-middle, and Arcia capitalized on it. Tatis Jr. and Machado would also have done the same thing. Regardless, he looked sharp and it seemed like that was really his only miss. He pitched better than his two earned runs in four innings. He struck out eight during that same outing, which is encouraging moving forward. In his last outing of the regular season, he allowed one hit over four innings while striking out six, putting his last two starts with four hits allowed over eight innings with 14 strikeouts. He had an up and down season with two separate stints on the Injured List. It’s difficult to analyze his season as a whole, because he threw three separate groups of outings over just 36 innings and we don’t know when and if his blister was causing issues prior to his IL stints etc. He’s looked great in his last two outings and he’ll need to bring it tonight against this dangerous San Diego offense. He threw 73 pitches in his last outing, and he’ll probably be on a similar pitch count tonight. His blister issue will need to be monitored, and like Clevinger, the Dodgers will likely be happy with five strong innings.
In other news,
Edwin Rios was injured during a workout on Sunday, leading to the switches with the roster from the NL Wild Card series.
Here are my thoughts; Rios primarily played third base during the season, and with Justin Turner the most likely player to get injured, the Dodgers needed a backup third baseman. Matt Beaty played significant innings at first base last season, whereas Max Muncy has played a total of 641 innings at third base in his three seasons with the Dodgers. Should something happen to Turner, Muncy could slide over to third while Beaty becomes the first baseman.
First pitch is at 6:38 PT on FS1.