Though the Dodgers (19-14) had won six in a row prior to last night’s 5-2 loss in San Diego, they had also lost their last two games on the road in Pittsburgh and are now 7-8 on the road this season compared to 12-6 at Dodger Stadium. Obviously that home record was 6-6 not that long ago, but the team has lost both of its road series against teams with records above .500 (Pirates, D-backs) and won the two against teams at or below .500 (Cubs, Giants).
The Padres (18-15) land in the former of the two categories and have won six of their past seven in San Diego, with the only loss coming to the Reds in 10 innings back on Tuesday. Blake Snell will start for the Padres, with his 5.28 ERA/5.63 FIP/4.60 xFIP/107 Stuff+ in 29 innings this season facing the Dodgers’ Dustin May‘s 3.15 ERA/3.79 FIP/5.09 xFIP/121 Stuff+ in 34 1/3 innings.
And while the Dodgers used Gavin Stone‘s debut to realign the rotation ahead of the series, it didn’t work out as hoped last night as Clayton Kershaw walked five batters and allowed a pair of home runs. Meanwhile, May enters tonight’s game with a career 3.88 ERA and a .660 OPS allowed to the Padres in 10 meetings. Having pitched in just 43 career games to this point, May’s 44th career game will be his 11th against San Diego and more than double his five appearances apiece against the D-backs and Giants.
|5:40 PM||San Diego|
|DH||Muncy (L)||DH||Carpenter (L)|
|P||May (R)||P||Snell (L)|
With the left-handed Snell on the mound, the Dodgers have sent Jason Heyward (0-for-4, 3 strikeouts and 1 walk) and David Peralta (2-for-5, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk) to the bench and reanimated Trayce Thompson. Striking out in a pinch hit appearance last night, Thompson is 0 for his last 17 with 2 walks and 13 strikeouts. Taking it a step further, since his three-home run game to open the season Thompson is 4-for-42 with three singles, a home run, seven walks, a hit by pitch and 25 strikeouts.
Max Muncy is at designated hitter while Chris Taylor gets the start at third base. Muncy’s career numbers aren’t great against Snell, and this doesn’t sound ideal.
The Padres send out Matt Carpenter at DH in place of Nelson Cruz with the switch to a right-handed starter while Brett Sullivan is catching in place of Austin Nola.
Snell hasn’t been absolutely horrible in any start this season, but he’s allowed at least a pair of runs in all six so far against the Rockies, Braves, Mets, Braves again, Cubs and Reds. Going 6 innings with 7 strikeouts against Cincinnati on May 1 was Snell’s first start without a walk this season. He only walked one in his 9-strikeout season debut against the Rockies, but had piled up 17 walks to 17 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings in the four starts from April 6 to April 25. He’s also allowed a homer in each of his past five starts. That small sample to start 2023 has Snell’s BB% at a career high 13.3%, his K% at its lowest since 2017 at 24.4% and his HR/FB rate the highest, 20.0%, during his time in San Diego.
In three games against Los Angeles last season, Snell walked 10 across 14 innings while still striking out 23. More than half of those strikeouts came on July 1, with 12 in 5 innings in addition to walking four. His two September starts against the Dodgers were drastically different results. Allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 innings on Sept. 10, Snell struck out five. A 5-inning start on Sept. 27 included just one hit and three walks to six strikeouts, with the Dodgers failing to score a run against him.
Holding a career line of .206/.274/.312/.586 against lefties, Snell is .300/.391/.450/.841 in 2023 though that is just 23 batters faced. Throwing 66.7% fastballs to lefties this season, Snell’s Whiff% against lefties with the slider is still strong (85.7%) as it has been between 43.4% and 58.1% for all of his career. Right-handed batters have seen 54.0% fastballs this season with a nearly identical mix of curves, changeups and sliders.
Unsurprisingly, Muncy is just 1-for-14 with a home run, three walks and a strikeout in his career against Snell. Mookie Betts is 9-for-35 with seven walks and five strikeouts while Freddie Freeman is 4-for-9 with two walks and two strikeouts. Will Smith‘s 5-for-16 includes a homer and walk but also eight career strikeouts.
Since pitching 13 innings with just one run allowed against the D-backs on March 31 and April 6, May has allowed 11 runs in 21 1/3 innings to the Giants, Mets, Cubs and Cardinals. That includes just 14 strikeouts to 11 walks and two hit batters, with the 15 hits allowed and .621 OPS actually limiting the potential damage from all of the free passes.
May struggled against the Padres last season, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) in 10 innings. Those came in back-to-back starts on Sept. 2 and Sept. 9, with eight walks and three hit batters leading to the struggles. May’s 3rd inning on Sept. 2 went strikeout, walk, home run by Manny Machado, strikeout, hit batter, home run by Brandon Drury, strikeout. After a hit batter and walk to open the 6th, May came out for literally Heath Hembree who struckout two before allowing a homer to Jurickson Profar.
With six runs charged to him in the first start, May’s 2nd inning on Sept. 9 went single, strikeout, walk, home run by Trent Grisham to count for three more runs before a 5th inning walk was brought home by a single and an error. In total, May’s eight walks and three hit batters against the Padres last September led to six of the 10 runs he allowed.
Back in 2021 when he wasn’t just a few appearances into his return from Tommy John surgery, May struck out 10 Padres to one walk across 6 innings. That was actually his final start before going down a week later against the Brewers.
After opening the 2023 with the highest usage of his four-seam fastball during his Major League career, May has gone back to the sinker a bit more over the past three starts. Of course, that’s been his primary pitch in each of his first four seasons in the majors. In his 30 innings upon his return from injury last season, May did have a career low usage of 28.9% for the sinker with his four-seamer rising up to a career-high 23.0% before sitting in the 40s for the first three starts this season.
Of course the speed difference between the fastball (97.4 mph) and sinker (96.7) being what it is, May’s still throwing 61.5% of his pitches right around the same velocity. That number was 51.9% last year and 58.7% in 2021, but there was a pretty key difference in those two instances. While the two pitches are 116 and 119 respectively on the Stuff+ charts right now, it would be nice if his curveball (145 Stuff+) would bump its current Whiff% from 22.0 back up to the 47.6 from 2022, the 45.2 from 2021 or even the 38.8 from 2020.
Machado is 7-for-22 against May with a pair of home runs, two walks and four strikeouts. His 1.011 OPS leads the lineup among the players with more than one plate appearance against May. Jake Cronenworth is 4-for-13 with a home run and two strikeouts for a .896 OPS. On the other end, Trent Grisham is 1-for-11 with a home run, five walks and six strikeouts and Fernando Tatis Jr. is 2-for-14 with a home run, four strikeouts and one walk.
First pitch from Petco Park is set for 5:40 p.m. PT on SportsNetLA.