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Dodgers-Padres Series Preview: South Korea Edition


“We’ve got no choice, right?”


That was San Diego Padres' third baseman Manny Machado's response when asked about his feelings regarding the upcoming two-game series between the Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 20th and 21st at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.


The games, which are scheduled to start at 3:05 AM in both Los Angeles and San Diego, represent a unique opportunity for all coaches, players, and staff to explore South Korea. “We gotta go," Machado said. "I just look at it as something different, take it like a vacation in a way. You know, just enjoy the culture. A vacation playing baseball, and we’re getting paid. It can’t get any better. Just enjoy everything that’s going to come with it.” (K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)



Where to Watch:


ESPN will be nationally televising both games at 7:05 PM KST, or 3:05 AM on the west coast. However, for local Padres and Dodgers fans who want to watch the game, they can also stream on it Padres. TV and Spectrum SportsNet LA, respectively (provided they have a subscription). Finally, MLB.TV will have both games as their "free game of the day," meaning any fans, regardless of whether or not they have purchased the $100 MLB.TV package, can stream the game on MLB.com.


What to Watch For


Tyler Glasnow and Yu Darvish are scheduled to square off in the first game, while Joe Musgrove and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are slated to open Game Two. For Los Angeles, the mini series will be an opportunity to showcase a lineup featuring the three-headed monster of Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, and Mookie Betts, as well as their two new shiny starting pitchers in Glasnow and Yamamoto. Betts will also be making his second position change in as many months, and the new Dodger shortstop will be tested right away with the Padres' star-studded lineup. For San Diego, all eyes will be fixed upon Fernando Tatis Jr, as the Padres need "Nando" to return to his 2021 MVP form following the trade of Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees. Additionally, twenty year-old rookie sensation Jackson Merrill, who has marveled in his short but impressive stint in Peoria, will likely be the opening day center fielder in both Korea and San Diego's domestic opener against the San Francisco Giants on March 28th. Padres GM A.J Preller, who has consistently prioritized trading for established big league talent, desperately needs Merrill to hit at the big league level in order to balance out a top-heavy roster.


Lineup Previews:


Dodgers:


  1. Mookie Betts, SS

  2. Shohei Ohtani, DH

  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B

  4. Will Smith C,

  5. Max Muncy, 3B,

  6. Teoscar Hernadez, LF

  7. James Outman, CF

  8. Jason Heyward, RF

  9. Gavin Lux, 2B



While this lineup consists of arguably Los Angeles' best nine hitters, both Muncy and Smith were reported to have experienced sickness a few days prior to the plane flight to Korea. If they feel any discomfort, expect the Dodgers to pivot to other options, most likely backup catcher Austin Barnes and super utility man Chris Taylor. Lux has also struggled in the field during spring training, so don't be shocked to see Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts throw Miguel Rojas in at short, and shift Betts to second if Roberts deems it necessary.


Padres:


  1. Xander Bogaerts, 2B

  2. Fernando Tatis Jr, CF

  3. Jake Cronenworth, 1B

  4. Manny Machado, DH

  5. Ha-Seong Kim, SS

  6. Luis Campusano, C

  7. Graham Pauley, 3B

  8. Jurickson Profar, LF

  9. Jackson Merrill, CF


In what will be quite a homecoming for Ha-Seong Kim, the Padres have managed to sport a formidable lineup around him despite a very limited budget this winter. It's worth noting, however, that Manny Machado will be the designated hitter, as his elbow surgery following the 2023 campaign will keep Machado off the hot corner for at least a few more weeks. Instead, San Diego will likely opt to go with twenty-three year old Graham Pauley at third base, another young, emerging rookie that Mike Shildt and A.J Preller have promoted to the big leagues.


My Predictions:


  • Ha-Seong Kim homers in his first AB, and the stadium erupts for the "Korean King."

  • Shohei Ohtani knocks in a run with an RBI double for his first hit as a Dodger.

  • Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Tyler Glasnow, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto combine for more than 35 strikeouts.

  • Xander Bogaerts has a four-hit game.

  • Graham Pauley commits two errors, allows Dodger runs to score.

  • Gavin Lux has a game-changing XBH in Game One off of Robert Suarez.

  • Dodgers win Game One 3-1, Padres win Game Two 6-4.
























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