Dodgers @ Padres September 27, 2016: Post-Clinch Baseball

7:10 PM PST
San Diego
Toles C  Hedges
Maeda (R)
Clemens (R)

The Dodgers commence their final road trip in San Diego on Tuesday with the NL West title already in their back pocket. After an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend, the off day on Monday was a much needed opportunity to process the events that transpired while also taking a well-deserved celebratory recess.

Thankfully, Vin Scully was there to comfort us after the tragic news of Jose Fernandez‘s death and was also there to perfectly describe the moment when the Dodgers clinched the NL West on the tenth-inning walk-off home run by Charlie Culberson, a minute before the Giants lost to the Padres in San Diego. The unforgettable day of baseball included a life cut short, an underdog hero and the final call of a broadcasting legend at Dodger Stadium.

All the champagne has been sprayed, and now the eyes of Los Angeles turn to the National League Division Series. There is still home-field advantage at stake for the NLDS to be captured over these final six regular season games, and the Dodgers are only within one game of the Nationals.

Washington will have to move on to the postseason without their star catcher.

Wilson Ramos has the second-most home runs for a catcher in the league this year (22). Yasmani Grandal has the second-most amongst catchers in all of baseball (27).

Stephen Strasburg won’t be available either.

The Dodgers have played well against Washington this year, winning six of seven meetings with the Nats. They also have been overall superb at home this season (53-28), so securing home-field advantage would of course be ideal. Washington will conclude their regular season schedule by playing three games each against the D-backs and Marlins. The NLDS begins Friday, Oct. 7.


Dave Roberts will also use the remaining regular season time to rest some of his everyday players while sorting out the task of piecing together the postseason roster, a job that is less clear-cut than in previous years. One big question mark is the potential NLDS Game 4 starter should Clayton Kershaw not need to go on short rest in an elimination game.

The Dodgers switched up the starting pitchers for the first two games of the series with Kenta Maeda (16-9, 3.20 ERA, 3.53 FIP) getting the nod for the opener and pushing Jose De Leon to Wednesday.

So much for Julio Urias being moved to the bullpen.

A surprise bonus Urias start reflects the Dodgers’ willingness to potentially start Urias in the NLDS. He is healthy and arguably has been one of the Dodgers’ best pitchers this year.

Roberts announced that Kershaw, Maeda and Hill will start the first three playoff games. Maeda preferred to make two starts before the NLDS to stay sharp.

Maeda, a model of consistency for the Dodgers this year, is set to make his 31st start of the season. He is at 169 innings, earning him an additional $250,000 in incentive money after he completes one inning of work on Tuesday. Maeda can earn another $1.5 million with a start on Sunday in the final regular season game of the season for the Dodgers in San Francisco.

The charismatic right-hander has not allowed more than three runs in any of his last 11 starts. He is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts against the Padres this year.

The fourth-place Friars, with nothing to lose, send Paul Clemens (3-5, 4.48 ERA, 6.07 FIP) to the mound for the series opener. The righty hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 10 2/3 innings (two starts), but he hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning in any of his 16 starts this year, including his first two starts of the year when he was with Miami before being claimed off waivers by San Diego. Clemens has only faced the Dodgers twice, both times in relief July 7-8.

Clemens helped the Dodgers out earlier this month when he shutout the Giants through five frames in the 4-0 Padres win at AT&T Park, snapping a Giants’ three-game winning streak, all while pitching with the flu. The Padres would go on to complete a three-game sweep of the Giants.

The lineup is pretty standard for the series opener. We can expect a similar lineup vs. a right-hander in the NLDS, possibly switching out Andrew Toles for Howie Kendrick in left field or Yasiel Puig for Josh Reddick in right field.

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About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.