By Morris Phillips
The Dodgers-Giants rivalry got a lot more entrenched last season after the teams combined for 213 regular season wins and an incredible 5-game series in the NLDS. None other than Vin Scully proclaimed Game 5 as the biggest, single game in the century-plus series.
The Giants lost Game 5, and the Dodgers lost in the next round to the Braves, who won the World Series, not the Dodgers or the Giants. But the memories and excitement persist, how could they not?
“It was phenomenal. It was a lot of fun. I think it was probably fun for all the fans that got to witness that,” manager Gabe Kapler said of last year’s high-level duel.
So 2022 is here, the rivalry returns Tuesday in Dodger Stadium, and both teams are still plenty capable of ruining things for each other and winning it all. Let’s get caught up:
The Dodgers saw big names move in and out, and one big name stay put. Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, Max Scherzer left the Dodgers, while Freddie Freeman got a generous deal to leave the Braves and come to LA. Clayton Kershaw turned down some offers, and opted not to retire. So far this season–his 15th in Los Angeles–he’s been up to old tricks. It’s a slightly younger, less experienced team, but still heralded as the Series favorite. More importantly, the Dodgers are so good offensively and defensively, no other team comes close. Not surprisingly, they lead MLB in run differential despite seven losses to date (+47).
The Giants didn’t act all crazy in free agency and worked the margins of their roster with a couple of low-profile upgrades. But the results aren’t bad: Through 22 games, the Giants have the highest scoring offense in baseball with nearly five runs a game, and they won 14 times.
Heading into the series, the Giants have to be worried about their personnel with a couple names returning and a sizeable group still injured. At least one outfielder, LaMonte Wade Jr. will return and Mike Yastrzemski is a possibility for Tuesday.
The Dodgers position group is completely healthy, while their pitching staff has some omissions. Blake Treinen, Dustin May, Andrew Heaney and David Price are all out, and none are expected this week.
The Giants get an opportunity to make an early impression with Carlos Rodon, the hottest performer on either roster. Rodon has struck out a franchise-record (for debut pitchers) 38 batters and won three times in four starts.