Heading into the 2020 MLB season, the San Diego Padres were a potential breakout team. Just under a month ago, they lost five straight games to fall to 11-12. Now with just two weeks to go, they are legitimately one of the best teams in baseball and actually have a shot to end up with the best record.
The Padres have won seven straight games and have gone 20-5 since the aforementioned losing streak.
The Dodgers are 33-14 and have been the class of baseball pretty much since the opening series of the season.
And yet, the Padres only trail the Dodgers by 2 1/2 games right now. Even better, the Padres are set to host the Dodgers for a three-game series starting Monday night.
From the Padres' perspective, a sweep here grabs them first place in the NL West, the No. 1 seed in the National League and the best record in baseball.
From the Dodgers' perspective, it's time to put away the pest that is far too close in the rear-view mirror.
The best part is the first game of the series is a bout between Cy Young candidates.
Clayton Kershaw is rejuvenated this season, looking like the Kershaw of old. He's 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 44 strikeouts against just eight walks in 41 innings.
Relatively unknown righty Dinelson Lamet, meantime, is 2-1 with a 2.24 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 68 strikeouts against 15 walks in 52 1/3 innings this season. He's become the clear-cut ace of the staff for the Padres.
The second game of the series, on Tuesday, actually brings a pretty intriguing pitching matchup as well, albeit in surprising fashion. The Dodgers send Tony Gonsolin (1.57 ERA, 0.84 WHIP in 28 2/3 innings) while the Padres counter with Zach Davies (2.48 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in 54 1/3 IP).
If nothing changes, Dodgers' Dustin May and Padres' Chris Paddack are line for the third game, making this a pretty amazing series on the fun meter.
No matter what, keep an eye on this series. In all likelihood, one of the two teams wins two of three games, but if there's a sweep, it will go a long way in determining how the playoff structure is set in the National League. With the new format, these are the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds, regardless of them having the two best records in the NL.
Speaking this way about the Dodgers? Yeah, we could've called that one back in June. The Padres, though? That's a bit of an upset, and upsets in sports are always fun. There might be more coming. Stay tuned.