LOS ANGELES — Perhaps nobody on the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ roster better typifies what the defending National League West champions are going through than Alex Wood, who will square off against the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
Wood has fashioned a solid 3.32 ERA over 10 starts during the season’s first two months, yet he only has one victory to show for it, against four defeats, and it came in his most recent outing Sunday against the Washington Nationals.
Likewise, the Dodgers have been delivering on offense as they would have hoped, their efforts just weren’t showing up in the victory column until recently. The Dodgers have a plus-19 run differential yet still have a 23-27 record.
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If things remain the same, it would be just the fifth time in Dodgers history the club would have a losing record with a positive run differential through the end of May.
One person who wouldn’t mind a continuation of the Dodgers’ upside-down season is Padres starter Jordan Lyles (1-1, 3.11), who starts opposite Wood on Saturday.
Lyles will make his fourth start after opening the season in the bullpen and the transition has been positive. He did give up four runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings of his most recent start Sunday against the Pirates, but his May 15 start was one to savor.
In that outing, Lyles was perfect over the first 7 1/3 innings, the longest run of perfection to open a game for the Padres since 2008 when Chris Young went the first 7 2/3 innings without allowing a baserunner.
Since joining the rotation May 10, Lyles has a 2.50 ERA, while San Diego has gone on to victories in each of his last two outings. And outside of giving up back-to-back home runs on his last two pitches of his most recent start at Pittsburgh, the Padres have been pleased with their new starter.
“Overall, we’ve been pretty efficient,” Lyles said, according to mlb.com. “Mentality-wise, we’ve done a pretty good job of being aggressive, attacking the zone. I’m looking forward to my next outing and keeping it going.”
In that next one he will face a determined Dodgers team that has won seven of its last eight games with Friday night’s 4-1 victory over the Padres. The Dodgers are just 3 1/2 games behind the division leading Colorado Rockies even though they had not been able to string together victories outside of their current run.
“You can see the energy in the clubhouse,” Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Everybody is like, ‘Oh man, we’re about to get out of this.’ We’ve just got to continue to play baseball.”
Wood is 4-2 in 13 appearances (nine starts) over his career against the Padres, while posting a 2.39 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Lyles is 0-3 with a 6.97 ERA in 15 career appearances against the Dodgers, six of them starts.
Last season, Wood emerged from the bullpen to become a dependable starter, winning his first 11 decisions before losing on July 21.