With all due respect to Dodgers-Giants, Cubs-Cardinals or Red Sox-Yankees, the best rivalry in baseball right now is Dodgers-Padres as they may have the two best rosters top to bottom in MLB and legitimately don't like each other. The teams close out their three-game set in front of another sellout crowd at Petco Park on Wednesday night with the Dodgers as short underdogs on the William Hill Sportsbook MLB odds. L.A. welcomes back former NL MVP Cody Bellinger from injury but may not have former AL MVP Mookie Betts as the team tries to avoid a rare sweep.
What should scare the rest of the National League is that the Dodgers led the Senior Circuit in runs despite having Bellinger, the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year and 2019 MVP, for just 16 games and Corey Seager, the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year and 2020 World Series MVP, for 37 games.
Bellinger first missed time this year with a hairline fracture in his left fibula and then this most recent stint with a hamstring issue. He will be activated before Wednesday's game. Bellinger was off to a slow start in part due to the injuries, batting .226 with a homer and 10 RBIs. Seager isn't far off from being activated but won't be Wednesday. First baseman Max Muncy was activated off IL on Tuesday.
Monitor the status of former Betts, though. He was removed from Tuesday's game with a stomach bug in the sixth inning. There is no indication it's anything but that, and Manager Dave Roberts is hopeful Betts will be ready for this one.
San Francisco leads the NL West, but the Dodgers remain +175 pennant favorites at William Hill and -225 favorites to win the division for a ninth straight year. Third-place San Diego is +275 to win the division and +400 second favorite for the pennant. What a great NLCS that would be. Sadly, the rivals don't play again in the regular season after Wednesday until Aug. 24.
The Padres took the first two of this series and the Dodgers have only been swept once this season: Three at the Cubs in early May. San Diego has won six in row overall and is 6-3 vs. L.A. this year.
It's reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer (7-5, 2.45) on the hill for Los Angeles. He was one of those upset with MLB's "knee-jerk reaction" to banning foreign substances for pitchers and Bauer seemed bothered by it for two starts, but he shutting out Arizona on three hits over seven last time out. Bauer is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Padres. Consider a Manny Machado hitting prop here as he's 12-for-22 career off Bauer with four homers.
San Diego goes with the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in franchise history, Joe Musgrove (4-6, 2.28). That no-no happened April 9 at Texas. Musgrove enters not having allowed more than three earned in his past six outings yet due to poor run support hasn't personally won since May 19. He lasted just three innings in his lone start vs. L.A. on April 25, allowing one earned in a no-decision.
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