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Top stats to know: Dodgers at Padres

It’s the 25th season of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, as the Los Angeles Dodgers match up with their division rival, the San Diego Padres.

Let’s take a look at some of the statistical storylines the Sunday Night Baseball crew will be talking about.

Dodgers top payroll list

According to the Associated Press, the Dodgers Opening Day payroll will come in at just over $235 million, knocking the Yankees from the top spot. This will be the first time that the Yankees do not have the highest Opening Day payroll in the majors since 1998, when the Orioles were atop the list. The $235 million is also projected to be the highest single-season payroll in MLB history.

Not only will the Dodgers open up with 2014’s highest payroll, but it’s a continuation of a rapid increase in spending under the new ownership. The Dodgers Opening Day payroll was $105 million as recently as 2012, before $216 million last season.

Ryu gets right in second half

Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers after Clayton Kershaw was scratched due to back pain.

Hyun-Jin Ryu Changeup 2013 Season

Ryu’s most effective pitch last season was his changeup, and it was among the most effective for any starter in the league, tied for third in OPS allowed against the pitch.

Not only was it among the most effective overall, but it got better as the season went on.

One reason for the improvement was that the location of Ryu’s changeup against right-handed batters became much more precise after the All-Star break, locating it on the corner rather than consistently off the plate.

Padres ponying up

The Padres have made significant increases to their payroll the last four seasons. Their Opening Day payroll has climbed from about $38 million in 2010 to more than $90 million this season.

But the Padres have a long list of injury issues to deal with, including one of their most notable acquisitions of the offseason, Josh Johnson, who will miss time with a strained flexor muscle.

Closing with a flourish

Padres starter Andrew Cashner had a great finish to 2013, with a 1.70 ERA in his last nine starts. His strikeout-to-walk rate went from 2.3-to-1 in his first 17 starts to 4.5-to-1 in his last nine.

Andrew Cashner In Starts Last Season

Cashner allowed four earned runs in 44 2/3 innings over his last six starts, including one run in 14 innings in two starts against the Dodgers.

Cashner's success might be linked to the increased use of his slider, a pitch he was throwing only about eight percent of the time in June. He was throwing it nearly once every four pitches in September.

Though Cashner is not often grouped with the hardest throwers in the majors, he can touch 97 MPH on the radar gun, which will come in handy when he faces Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig.

Of the last 57 pitches Puig saw that were 95 MPH or faster in 2013, he managed only one hit. He had 11 hits on the first 94 he saw.