Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres Pick & Prediction APRIL 13th 2024

Early in every season, there are times when a team won’t have much of an idea of what to expect of the next day’s starting pitcher.

That will be the case Saturday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers meet the visiting San Diego Padres in the second game of this three-game series.

The Dodgers know that San Diego right-hander Matt Waldron (0-1, 3.86 ERA) throws a knuckleball. Even if Waldron doesn’t consider himself a “knuckleball pitcher,” he is the only current major leaguer who features a knuckleball as a main part of his pitching arsenal.

In his most recent start, on Sunday in San Francisco against the Giants, Waldron threw 5 1/3 three-hit innings and cemented his place as San Diego manager Mike Shildt’s fifth starter.

“Couldn’t ask for much more out of Waldy,” Shildt said after that game. “Controlled counts, threw strikes, made pitches when he had to. Basically almost threw six scoreless. It’s a tremendous job.”

The Dodgers, unfamiliar with Waldron, can take some advice from what veteran Giants third baseman Matt Chapman said Sunday.

“I can’t remember the last time I faced a knuckleballer — and not to mention he (Waldron) has some other good pitches, too. … So, it’s not just a knuckleball. You have to be ready for everything. It was definitely tricky.”

Unlike knuckleball pitchers of the past, who used a knuckleball as a primary offering with one or two other pitches, Waldron uses a five-pitch arsenal.

In his two starts this season, Waldron has thrown 38.1 percent knuckleballs (at an average of 76.9 miles per hour), along with 23.3 percent four-seam fastballs (91.1 mph average), as well as sinkers, sweepers and cutters.

That’s plenty to keep the Dodgers off balance. The Dodgers lost their second game in a row for the first time of the season Friday night in an 8-7, 11-inning loss to the Padres.

The Dodgers hit four home runs in the first three innings to go up 7-3, then didn’t score again. Los Angeles had only two hits, both from Shohei Ohtani, the rest of the way.

“At times, I thought we were very good at collecting hits and keeping the line moving and it just seemed to be in the later innings we just got big,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We expanded the zone, and our swings got bigger, when all you need is a base hit. We could have done a better job of finishing them off.”

Ohtani had three hits Friday, including his fourth home run of the season and 175th of his career, tying Hideki Matsui for the most home runs by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball. Matsui played from 2003-12.

“I’m happy personally,” Ohtani said of tying Matsui, through his new translator. “It’s an honor to be on the same stage as him. Obviously, it’s a big deal for Japanese baseball as well. I’m looking forward to the next one. I knew about it … but I’m really just focused on the next one.”

Right-hander Gavin Stone (0-1, 9.00) will oppose Waldron for the Dodgers. Stone has made two starts this season, striking out 11 and giving up eight hits in eight innings pitched.

Stone is 0-0 with a 11.81 ERA in one career start against the Padres, allowing two homers and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings.

–Field Level Media

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