Dodgers-Padres officially isn’t a rivalry after 2022 domination

Adam Weinrib
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres reacts to a strike during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on September 29, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres reacts to a strike during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on September 29, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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After the Juan Soto trade, what more can the San Diego Padres do to climb into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stratosphere? And how can the Dodgers possibly reject them more emphatically?

Ho, hum, Andrew Heaney potentially solidified his playoff rotation spot by throwing four dominant innings behind Brusdar Graterol as the opener on Thursday. Woo, hoo, Miguel Vargas cemented himself as another young gun by delivering with two outs and the bases loaded, ultimately driving in three. Whee, hee, the Dodgers tossed a returning David Price in for the save to capture yet another series over the other supposed big-spending behemoth who wants to win the NL West at all costs.

Even when the Dodgers are long past clinched and just throwing options at the wall to see what sticks, they continue to stick to their guns and run past the Pads, who blew up the baseball world at the 2022 trade deadline and somehow still ended up holding the dynamite.

LA’s 108th win of the season was an unconventional one, pieced together by a manager looking to experiment against an opponent that should’ve been more fearsome.

Maybe, if things had worked for the Padres, they could’ve kept the right amount of pressure on the Dodgers to keep clinching ahead of them on the highway, but not so much pressure that the Boys in Blue closed the season exhausted, as they did when the Giants pushed them last year.

Nah. Instead, the Padres clogged the bases, didn’t cross the finish line, and went 5-14 against their “chief rivals” in another almost unfathomable star-laden 162-game measuring stick.

Do the Dodgers and Padres belong in the same conversation?

When that “Playoff-Caliber Pitching” is Heaney, you know you’re really stretching your parameters.

It’s very possible that nobody wants to face Soto, Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell in a short series — nobody other than the Dodgers, that is. If these two teams match up in October, there’s very little reason to predict disaster for LA, other than the muttering, “They’re due” in a quiet room and counting that as analysis.

Thursday night’s triumph, featuring an unexpected cast of characters, marked the ninth straight series win for Los Angeles over San Diego, and ran the Dodgers’ record to a remarkable 23-5 in their most recent 28 matchups.

This season, Manny Machado has a .902 OPS, but an .817 mark against the Dodgers. Juan Soto is slugging .454 with an .860 OPS, dragged down by his battles with LA (.167 average, .204 slugging, .570 OPS).

Blake Snell has a 3.47 ERA in 2022, perfectly in line with his career mark of 3.43. In three starts against the Dodgers, he’s whiffed a remarkable 23 men in 14 innings … but walked 10 and posted a 3.86 mark nonetheless. Joe Musgrove? 3.63 against the Dodgers, 3.03 overall.

Only Yu Darvish seems to step his game up against his team’s No. 1 roadblock (2.52 ERA in four starts against LA in 2022) — but we know how he tends to wane in the playoffs at Dodger Stadium.

It would take a massive reversal of fortune for the Padres to give the Dodgers a scare in the 2022 postseason, an opportunity they wouldn’t even be afforded until dethroning a red-hot NL East loser (either the Braves or Mets) in a three-game series, first.

The Dodgers, in that instance, will be well-rested and ready to dole out another dose of frontier justice. That’s just the way this world seems to work, regardless of which personnel join the Padres midstream.

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