Intent on reversing a disturbing trend, the San Diego Padres are ready to welcome right-hander Yu Darvish back to the rotation Thursday in an expected duel with Max Scherzer and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
It will be understandable if both teams look less than spry after they played 16 innings in a 5-3 Dodgers’ victory that ended around 1 a.m. local time Thursday. The Dodgers finally put away the victory with a two-run homer from AJ Pollock.
Darvish has missed the past two weeks of action due to lower back tightness, and over that time it has been nothing but struggles for a Padres team that suddenly finds itself in a fight just to earn one of two National League wild-card berths. San Diego has lost 11 of its past 13 games.
Right-hander Chris Paddack also is due back soon from a left oblique strain, but first Darvish (7-7, 3.70 ERA) will try to give San Diego a boost and avoid a three-game sweep by the rival Dodgers.
The Padres have been trying to survive with bullpen games, a solid idea since the relief corps has one of the best combined ERAs in baseball. But the Padres are an even 3-3 in the team’s six bullpen days this month.
“Hopefully, if those guys throw the ball the way they’re capable of, that can give (the bullpen) a rest period,” manager Jayce Tingler said about Darvish and Paddack. “That would be huge.”
San Diego relievers still could have another busy day since Darvish is expected to be dealing with a bit of rust from his time away. The Padres bullpen absorbed 8 1/3 innings Wednesday, while Dodgers relievers went 9 1/3 innings.
A member of the Dodgers for 13 combined regular-season and playoff starts in 2017, Darvish is 2-1 lifetime with a 1.33 ERA in four outings against his former club. In three starts against Los Angeles this season, he is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA.
The Dodgers will counter with Scherzer, who will be making his fifth start in a Los Angeles uniform. The Dodgers have won all four of his previous starts since he arrived from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline.
Scherzer (11-4, 2.65) allowed one run on five hits in five innings of a 4-3 win over the New York Mets on Saturday. The Dodgers will need more length out of him Thursday to assist a tired bullpen.
“There’s just so much to unpack (from Wednesday), but to come away with the win was huge,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Obviously we’re not going to take batting practice (Thursday) and we’ll see how many guys feel good enough to play, but I like the guy taking the mound in Max Scherzer.”
With the Dodgers, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA and has been everything his new club was hoping for as it looked to replace Trevor Bauer (administrative leave).
In 13 career starts against the Padres, Scherzer is 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA. In two July starts against them when he was still a member of the Nationals, he was roughed up for 11 combined runs in 10 2/3 innings.
–Field Level Media