Dodgers Outlast Padres In Instant Classic

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Jorge Montanez
·9 min read
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What. A. Game. The battle between the Dodgers and Padres on Friday had just about everything. A returning superstar, extra innings, benches cleared, starting pitchers playing the outfield, second basemen pitching, and not a moment where you weren't at the edge of your seat. Oh, and we get 18 more before the regular season is over. Only these two teams could make a Friday night in April two weeks into the season feel like an October playoff game.

It began with a pitcher's duel between Walker Buehler and Ryan Weathers. The 21-year-old Weathers became the youngest pitcher to start a game this season against possibly the toughest matchup he could draw. And he looked poised beyond his age as he hung tough for 3 2/3 scoreless innings. It's unclear when Weathers will get another start with Dinelson Lamet nearing a return. One thing is clear, the future is bright for the talented southpaw in San Diego. On the other side, Buehler held the Padres to two runs over six innings with only four strikeouts despite generating 16 whiffs. I'd chalk the mediocre 6 K/9 over three starts so far to small-sample variance. The strikeouts will come.

We also had the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., who took Buehler deep to center field in the fifth inning to give the Padres a 2-1 lead at the time. Tatis Jr. suffered a scary shoulder subluxation on April 5 after a hard swing. It's going to be difficult not to put the young superstar under a microscope in every at-bat, as the issue could reoccur or have lingering effects on his production. Still, the 106.1 miles per hour home run was an encouraging sign.

The best of the action would come in the late innings. A Zach McKinstry double would plate a run in the eighth to give the Dodgers a two-run lead. McKinstry -- with three home runs and a .326 average -- is just the latest of Dodger breakouts that have seemingly come out of nowhere. In the bottom half of the inning, Jurickson Profar delivered his own clutch double that would tie the game at five apiece. Justin Turner singled in the ninth to give the Dodgers a one-run lead before Eric Hosmer tied the game with his own base hit that would score Manny Machado. Machado drew a walk to get on base but was in obvious pain. Still, he managed to steal a base and move to third on a wild pitch. It's moments like that in which a crowd -- albeit a small one -- make a world of difference to the feel and intensity of the game.

After David Price looked phenomenal in the 11th inning to shut down the Padres, Corey Seager delivered the winning blow with a two-run shot to center field. The Dodger would go on to score three more runs as the inning unraveled for San Diego. And Price would again shut the door on the Padres to give the Dodgers the victory in this battle. This was only game one of nineteen...until October, and it couldn't be scripted any better.

Astros to remain out

Dusty Baker said on Friday that he does not expect the Astros players on the COVID-19 injured list to return before the team's next homestand on Thursday, April 22. Players out include Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Frankie Montas -- 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 SO against Detroit

Montas made good progress at chipping away at the damage done by the Dodgers in his season debut -- seven runs in 2 2/3 -- with an impressive outing against the Tigers. He allowed just two hits and walked one while striking out seven to pick up the win. Montas generated 15 whiffs, including four on six swings with the splitter. He'll need to keep that going if he's to bounce back to the 2019 levels that had him looking like a blooming ace. A good outing against the Twins next time out would go a long way in earning the trust of fantasy managers.

JT Brubaker -- 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 SO against MIL

Brubaker made easy work of the Brewers with six shutout innings and eight strikeouts. And he needed only 83 pitches to do it, with an excellent 34 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). The 27-year-old has impressed in the early going with a 1.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 18 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings through three starts. He's got my attention.

Hitters with an EDGE

Nick Castellanos -- 2-for-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI against Cleveland

Castellanos launched his fifth home run of the season on Friday, and the multi-hit game brought his slash line to .321/.345/.698 through 13 games. He didn't have the season we expected his first year in Cincinnati, but he's making up for that and more. The Statcast data is off the charts with a .370 expected batting average and a .789 expected slugging. Yes, slugging, not OPS. Castellanos is looking like a steal where he was taken in drafts.

Jared Walsh -- 2-for-4, HR, 1 R, 3 RBI against Minnesota

Walsh is doing a great job of proving to us that last year was no fluke. The home run on Friday was his fourth of the season. The most substantial change for Walsh in 2020 was his ability to make contact, cutting his strikeout rate down to 13.9 percent. Those gains look to be carrying over so far with a 17 percent strikeout rate through 12 games. This might be a buy-high situation where you'd want to check how the person rostering Walsh in your league feels about him and try to make a deal. The breakout looks legit.

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Priority Pickup

Jazz Chisholm -- Available in 61 percent of Yahoo fantasy baseball leagues

Chisholm is one of the more exciting young players to emerge this season. The 23-year-old second baseman stayed hot on Friday, going 2-for-3 with his third home run of the season. Chisholm also has three steals, and he looks well on his way to a potential 20/20 season. You don't want to leave that on the waiver wire. Get that roster percentage up.

Closing Time

Yimi Garcia has taken over as closer for the Marlins and recorded his third save of the season on Friday against the Giants with one strikeout. As long as he remains effective, Garcia should continue with the full-time role in the ninth inning.

Will Smith worked around some struggles with his control as he walked three batters to load the bases in the ninth inning against the Cubs. Smith would get Joc Pederson to strike out swinging to lock down his third save of the season.

Cesar Valdez worked around some trouble of his own on Friday against the Rangers with an error and base hit, putting two men on in the ninth. He'd get Jose Trevino to strikeout to end the game and notch his third save of the year.

It seems Lou Trivino is taking hold of the ninth inning duties in Oakland. He recorded his second save of the season on Friday against the Tigers. I wouldn't rule out Jake Diekman getting the occasional opportunity, but it appears Trivino is the preferred option to close.

Friday's Matchup of the Day

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) vs Yu Darvish (SDP)

Why wouldn't we go back to this matchup after the incredible game Friday night? We're in for a treat between these two teams as both pitchers have been excellent to start the year. Darvish will be facing his former team, just to add to the storylines here.

American League Quick Hits: Byron Buxton is dealing with a mild hamstring strain ... Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to throw a side session on Saturday ... Mitch Haniger went 3-for-4 and reached base four times against the Astros on Friday ... Amed Rosario hit his first home run of the season Friday against the Reds ... James Paxton was transferred to the 60-day injured list ... Stephen Piscotty was placed on the paternity leave list ... Akil Baddoo went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Friday against the A's as his strikeout woes begin to mount ... Dylan Cease was activated from the COVID-19 injured list ... the White Sox optioned Zack Burdi ... Scott Schebler was recalled by the Angels ... Mike King was optioned to the Yankees' alternate training site after Friday's game ...

National League Quick Hits: Scans revealed Cody Bellinger has a hairline fracture in his left fibula, with no clear timetable for his return ... Christian Yelich (back) has yet to return to the Brewers lineup ... Mike Moustakas was scratched Friday with a non-COVID related illness ... Drew Smyly was placed on the 10-day injured list with forearm inflammation, with Kyle Wright being recalled in the corresponding move ... Ryan Weathers became the first high-school pitcher selected in the first round of the 2018 draft to start a game in the majors ... The Reds placed Aristides Aquino on the 10-day injured list with a hamate bone fracture ... The Braves recalled infielder Johan Camargo from the alternate training site ... The Cubs activated infielder Matt Duffy from the COVID-19 injured list ... The Giants recalled hard-throwing reliever Camilo Doval from the alternate training site ... The Nationals placed LHP Luis Avilan on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation and recalled RHP Kyle McGowin ... The Mets signed outfielder Mason Williams to a minor league contract ...